Euro 2020 may come a year too soon for Rice to solve England midfield problems that will be exposed next summer.

DON'T be fooled by the hype - if England don't find an answer to their midfield fragility they will be exposed next summer.

Gareth Southgate's side have cruised through qualifying and will be one of the top six seeds at Euro 2020 next summer.

 Gareth Southgate has been desperate for Declan Rice to play the holding role - but Euro 2020 may come a year too soon for him to play on his own

Gareth Southgate has been desperate for Declan Rice to play the holding role - but Euro 2020 may come a year too soon for him to play on his ownCredit: EPA

With all three group stages played at Wembley, the stars would appear to be lining up for a tilt at glory for the Three Lions.

But Southgate has a real weakness right in the spine of his side which he now only has two friendlies to sort out before he has to name his squad at the end of the season.

Declan Rice was supposed to be the man who ended the country's search for a holding midfielder to give the national team a platform to attack from.

But the West Ham man looks as exposed in that role as any of the previous occupants, partly down to not being developed enough as a player and partly down to the fact England just don't know how to find the right balance in their side.

Rice is not having the best of seasons with the Hammers, but there is real talent there and a footballing intelligence despite his young age to suggest he can thrive through his career.

This tournament might just come a year too early, though, for Southgate to really to be able to hang his hat on him being able to deliver at the very highest level.

The problem is, too often he is exposed as the only man in midfield - just as Kosovo did several times as the other two midfielders Harry Winks and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got caught too far up field.

 Rice and Harry Winks have real talent - but England may not be able to play either in the lone holding role without being overrun

Rice and Harry Winks have real talent - but England may not be able to play either in the lone holding role without being overrunCredit: Getty Images - Getty

There were huge gaps between the midfield trio, and better sides than Kosovo would have made England pay.

The defence, whoever plays, is not good enough to be relied upon to mop up in those situations and as it stands Rice can't do the job on his own.

Southgate's problem is that if the 20-year-old isn't totally ready, he doesn't have anyone else who fits the bill to play as the lone holding midfielder.

Jordan Henderson has played there before, but there is a reason why Southgate was so desperate for Rice to come through - the Liverpool captain is far less effective when he doesn't have someone alongside him.

The same can be said for Winks, even though he has probably sealed a place in the squad over this international break.

What England need for solidity is two in the holding role, and that deprives Southgate of the opportunity to play the two attacking midfielders he wants.

But unless Rice, Winks or Henderson make a huge leap forward in that position over the next six months, it is a choice he may well have to make.

And that will severely weaken the Three Lions going forward next summer, when Southgate would far prefer to let his bright attacking hopes off the leash and see if the rest of Europe can cope.

The 4-0 win hugely flattered England on the night. They could, and should, have conceded long before the three late goals changed the reflection of the match.

They won't get away with it come the finals. England are further away than many people think.

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