Nations League

Rice ready to play 'dirty' to disrupt Netherlands star De Jong

Declan Rice said England's Nations League clash with Netherlands will be the biggest game he has played in if he is involved.

Rice ready to play 'dirty' to disrupt Netherlands star De Jong

England defensive midfielder Declan Rice is ready to play "dirty" against "fantastic player" Frenkie de Jong to help England overcome Netherlands in the Nations League semi-finals. The West Ham player, who can also play as a centre-back, pinpointed De Jong as a major threat to England's chances at Estadio Dom Afonso in Guimaraes.

De Jong to join Barcelona

De Jong, who will join Barcelona for next season after agreeing a move worth a potential €86million in January, was a key member of the Ajax side that reached the Champions League semi-finals and his accomplished performances showed why the Blaugrana rate him so highly.

Rice is hoping to make his third appearance for the Three Lions and is ready for a physical battle with the 22-year-old.

"He is a fantastic player," Rice told reporters. "I am relishing the chance to put myself up against him.

"You cannot give him too much respect on the pitch because that is when he starts to dictate the game.

"You have got to be dirty, up in his face and try and disrupt him from playing his game. I am sure as a team we will do well to stop the Dutch.

"This will be, if I am involved, the biggest game of my life. We are in the semi-finals against a great side."

Rice chose England over Ireland

Rice earned three senior caps in friendlies for the Republic of Ireland before writing to FIFA in February to request a transfer of his registration to England in a decision he admitted at the time was "extremely difficult".

Four months on, he said the media fallout from the switch of allegiances did not adversely affect his season at West Ham or his preparations for international duty with England.

"Most people would have thought that was tough to take on, with loads of papers in Ireland writing about me and Irish players speaking about me," said Rice.

"But it is always going to blow over and I am so laid back, I do not really take much notice of it.

"I am just focused on what I have got to do for club and country. I have had to be mentally strong and I have been like that since I was a kid."