By George Overhill

26th Nov, 2022 | 6:00pm

Gary Neville was concerned by West Ham captain Declan Rice’s “sluggish” performance for England against USA at the World Cup.

The Three Lions played out a dull goalless draw in their second group game in Qatar on Friday night (25 November), with Tyler Adams widely highlighted for his performance in US the midfield.

But Neville was very surprised that the Americans in the centre of the park performed so well, and by comparison he was left somewhat worried by how far off his best Rice was.

Speaking on the live ITV match coverage after the final whistle on Friday night (25 November, 9.13pm) Neville said: “The worry for me is I thought the USA would tire quite a lot in the second half, off the back of what happened against Wales, but I thought we looked leggy at times.

“I thought Declan, who’s unbelievable, dynamic, and athletic, he looked sluggish. I hope that’s something that he was just feeling a little bit off.”

Off the pace

Nobody in the England side played particularly well in a game that most expected them to win, having beaten Iran 6-2 in the opener on Monday (21 November).

Harry Maguire was probably the pick of Gareth Southgate’s players, which isn’t likely to result in a sparkling attacking performance, and man of the moment Jude Bellingham was substituted from alongside Rice in the middle.

So it is unlikely that anything is affecting the Hammers man in particular, and there is always the possibility that England were half-aiming for a draw given that it has left them in command of the group with a game to go.

But after a start to the season which has seen West Ham underperform far more often than expected, and with star man Rice unfortunately included in that, it is another game where the 23-year-old hasn’t hit his best.

With transfer talk starting to mount again ahead of what is thought to be a £100million-plus move, potentially in the summer, Rice being short of his top level could end in the double-blow of the Irons being deprived of strong performances and millions in transfer fees.

Hammers fans will hope that their leader, and the rest of the England side, play more like they did against Iran than they did USA when they face Wales on Tuesday (29 November).