Declan Rice is fit to play for England against France in their World Cup quarter-final, Three Lions team-mate Kalvin Phillips confirmed.
Rice missed England’s training session on Wednesday because of illness, sparking fears over his ability to play against the reigning world champions on Saturday.
But Phillips, who formed a vital partnership with Rice in England’s route to the Euro 2020 final, allayed any worries over the West Ham midfielder’s availability.
“I believe Dec [Rice] is fit,” Phillips told reporters at his pre-match news conference. “He’s back in training and he’s fine.”
After playing such a vital role at the European Championships last year, Phillips has played just 40 minutes off the bench in Qatar, in part due to only recently returning from shoulder surgery.
However, Phillips insists he is ready to fill in if Rice does experience any problems against France, saying: “If something goes wrong then I’ll be there and I’ll do my best to be fit for 90 minutes.
“I want to play as many minutes as possible. Regardless of whether Dec is playing or I am, we’ll do our best.”
— England (@England) December 8, 2022
Another reason for Phillips’ limited time on the pitch has been the emergence of 19-year-old Jude Bellingham, who has been widely praised for his excellent tournament displays at such a young age.
Asked whether he is enjoying the tournament less because of his reduced minutes, the Manchester City man insisted he was still happy, and also praised those preferred to him.
“I am still enjoying it. I am still having loads of fun,” Phillips explained. “I’m not playing as much, which can be frustrating, but if you look at the players playing ahead of me and how well they are doing, I can’t really argue.
“I just need to keep working hard and getting fitter and fitter and then make an impact when I come on and be solid when I come on.”
Much of the talk in the build-up to England’s quarter-final clash has centred on how manager Gareth Southgate will combat the threat of tournament top goalscorer Kylian Mbappe.
Phillips’ City team-mate Kyle Walker is the man many feel will be chosen to deal with Mbappe, though the defender only recently returned from injury.
While Phillips lauded Mbappe’s abilities, he is confident Walker will be up to the task of defending against him, adding: “We know he [Mbappe] is an amazing player and he has been one of the top players for the last few years.
“But if there was anyone I would like to put up against Mbappe, it would be Kyle Walker because he is an unbelievable defender and probably the only one that is quicker than him as well.”