Declan Rice reveals how Adam Wharton ‘shocked’ team-mates – as midfielder makes Euros 138 days after playing in the Championship

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DECLAN Rice has waxed lyrical about his new England colleague Adam Wharton – and has no doubt the midfielder will be ready and unfazed when needed by Gareth Southgate. 

Wharton, 20, was named by Southgate in his Euro 2024 squad just 138 days after playing for Blackburn Rovers against Huddersfield Town in the Championship. 

Wharton only turned 20 eighteen days after scoring in that 1-1 draw, three days after his debut for Crystal Palace in the 4-1 defeat to Brighton. 

There have been plenty of tactical threads on X since showing how composed he is on the ball, how unruffled he is when he receives a pass with two or three players closing in. 

One of Wharton’s favourite passes is a ball zipped in a vertical line up the pitch to an attacker after he has scanned his options and quickly made his decision before executing it. It could be an analogy for his career progression. 

Arsenal’s Rice didn’t play down the impact of Wharton, who only made his England debut in the 3-0 win against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday. 

“He’s been outstanding” Rice said. “In training he impressed a lot of the players. He’s so composed and calm on the ball. He played his first half of the season in the Championship, he’s come [into the England team] from Crystal Palace now.

“He’s got a beautiful left foot, really crisp passing. And all round, just a really down-to-earth boy who wants to learn. 

“He’s still obviously only 20 years old, but to be on the plane to go to his first European Championships, what a moment for him and his family and I know he’s one who won’t take it for granted.

“You know, he’ll be ready when called upon. I think you see the other night how composed he is and he’s ready for the big stage.

“I think he’s one of them that doesn’t get fazed by big things.” 

Rice added: “I think there’s a difference you can see between players that are top-level players at 20, and players that are just on the cusp of stuff.

“And he’s top-level, he’s really, really top-level. At 20 years old, he sees a pass early, left and right foot. It’s impressive the way he passes the ball, whether it’s only five or ten yards, there’s just a crispness to it that’s really impressive.

“He’s really calm, composed, and relaxed. You speak to the Crystal Palace boys about him, he’s shocked them on how well he’s done. 

“But look, he’s 20 years old, this is his first tournament.

“It’s so important we don’t put too much pressure on him, let’s just let him flourish. England have an amazing midfielder that’s going to come through, I’m sure, for the next ten, fifteen years.”


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