By Nick Ware

13th Oct, 2021 | 6:30am

Gary Lineker thrilled with England midfield as West Ham star Declan Rice flanked by Mount and Foden

Gary Lineker was left thrilled by the decision to start Phil Foden and Mason Mount alongside West Ham star Declan Rice in the England midfield against Hungary.

Rice, 22, was handed his usual berth in the England engine room last night as he lined up against Hungary for their World Cup qualifier at Wembley.

However, instead of being paired with a more defensive-minded partner, like Kalvin Phillips or Jordan Henderson, Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate named Manchester City’s Foden and Chelsea’s Mount in midfield as he opted to include more creativity against a side they beat 4-0 in Budapest last month.

Reacting to the team news via his personal Twitter profile before the match, Lineker was enthused.

“Now then, Mason Mount and Phil Foden playing either side of Declan Rice is the exciting midfield three I’ve been waiting to see,” he wrote.

One-time gamble?

With England in firm control of Group I, Southgate probably felt he could afford to take a slight ‘risk’ in midfield as he shifted much of the defensive onus onto Rice.

The usually risk-averse 51-year-old has generally preferred someone with more natural defensive skills alongside Rice or just ahead of him, but with Phillips out injured, he opted for a more experimental trio.

It’s not a move that paid off, however.

Hungary pressed with more intensity than they did in the reverse fixture, and they were much more dangerous on the counter-attack with Mount guilty of losing possession on a couple of occasions.

Rice isn’t alien to the role of acting as a sweeper in midfield as Tomas Soucek is often found galloping up towards the final third of the pitch, leaving Rice to put out all the fires further behind him, but he was left exposed on a couple of occasions last night.

He still did a decent job, but England could only manage a 1-1 draw after going behind in the 24th minute.

In other West Ham news, the Irons want to sign this 22-year-old La Liga breakout star with a ‘very attractive’ release clause.

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