Declan Rice has urged England fans to keep faith ahead of the World Cup in Qatar and insisted the Three Lions showed signs of progress as they slipped to another defeat in Friday night’s Nations League clash with Italy.
Giacomo Raspadori’s second-half strike earned the home side a 1-0 win in Milan, a result which sees England relegated from the top tier of the Nations League with a game of the campaign still to spare.
More pressingly, it sees England’s run of games without a win extend to five matches and Gareth Southgate’s side are struggling for form at the worst possible time, with the World Cup less than two months away.
The first four of matches of that dismal streak came in the space of 11 days back in June and despite defeat in the San Siro, West Ham midfielder Rice believes England offered an improved display.
“It’s obviously disappointing,” Rice told Channel 4. “Every tournament we go into we set out to win the group and progress and win every game. In the Nations League, we’ve slipped below our standards.
“But I didn’t think it was all bad tonight. One chance for them, one goal. I thought we controlled the game, passed the ball around well, especially in the first-half and got into some good areas, we just lacked that cutting edge in the end. But it’s coming. [It was] a much better performance than it was in the summer.”
The most alarming element of England’s turgid form in 2022 has been their inability to score goals. Southgate’s men have now gone 450 minutes without scoring from open play, with Harry Kane’s late penalty in June’s draw against Germany their only goal in five games.
Monday’s reverse against the Germans at Wembley is England’s last chance to rediscover some creative spark before their group stage opener against Iran in Doha.
“It’s not that we’re not creating the chances,” Rice added. “So many times we got into the opposition penalty box. Even myself at the end there, I could be adding goals, having a shot instead of laying one off.
“But look, I see it in training, there’s goals for fun. Trust me, we’re going to be good.”