Rice named England captain against Belgium

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Ivan Toney is set to make only his second England appearance when they face Belgium in Tuesday’s friendly while midfielder Declan Rice will mark his 50th cap by wearing the captain’s armband, manager Gareth Southgate said on Monday.

Toney received his first England call-up since serving an eight-month suspension for breaching FA betting rules and the Brentford striker will play for the first time since his debut, exactly a year ago.

With skipper Harry Kane sidelined with an ankle injury, Toney will have the opportunity to lead the line and try to impress ahead of the Euros after Ollie Watkins struggled to make an impact up front in last week’s 1-0 loss to Brazil.

“Ivan will be involved in the game for sure,” Southgate told reporters. “I have to say, with everything that’s happened, the original idea or plan for the week is a little bit different.

“We’re probably finding out about more players but that’s really helpful. To see all those players against high level opposition will help us make better decisions moving forward.”

With several other senior figures such as defenders Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire also missing the game due to injury, Southgate said Arsenal’s 105 million pounds ($132.77 million) midfielder Rice would wear the captain’s armband.

“It’s his 50th cap. He has great leadership experience already at a tender age and I think it’s a brilliant opportunity for some of our younger players to show leadership and experience it,” Southgate said.

“Some of our core group are not with us, so it’s a different dynamic, a great opportunity for others to step up, lead and grow.

“A lot of the players involved with the squad are the future and the more of those experiences they can have that’s helpful for everybody.”

Rice, 25, said he was left “absolutely speechless” when he was informed he would captain England and lead the side out at Wembley Stadium.

“When he (Southgate) told me last night, I shook his hand, gave him a hug and said, ‘Thank you’,” Rice said.

“I owe him a lot. Since I first came into the team, he’s made me feel at home. I’ve always felt so comfortable playing under him and I’ve grown in confidence. For my 50th cap, to walk out in front of my friends and family is an absolute honour.”