Declan Rice hits back at Graeme Souness criticism: ‘It’s harsh’

Declan Rice has said Graeme Souness' criticism of his game is "harsh" because he "doesn’t watch West Ham every week", as the England midfielder insisted he generally takes pundit scrutiny on board to improve his game.

The 24-year-old illustrated this by noting the balance in the opinions Roy Keane has offered. Both Sky Sports pundits have scrutinised Rice's game of late, pointing to how he is superb at winning the ball, but is lacking in the two other main attributes of passing and scoring goals.

"It’s harsh," Rice said. "I think it’s harsh because Souness doesn’t watch West Ham every week.

“There’s loads of West Ham fans, 60,000 go every week, and see what I do. So I think to say I’m only good at one of three is harsh but Souness was a top midfielder, a top player and when someone like him speaks you have to sometimes listen and take on board where you can improve if that’s true. And obviously Roy as well.

“Roy has said some glowing things about me in the past but also sometimes he’s also said some things that he thinks I can improve on as well. It’s one of those things you take with a pinch of salt and try not to let it affect you too much. I can take criticism on the chin quite well so if it is that way I will listen to it to see where I can improve.”

Rice made the interesting revelation that he has taken himself off social media in order to completely focus on his game. He admitted to Gareth Southgate it has not just left him ignorant of the wider world but also the game, as he wants to completely concentrate on keeping West Ham United up.

"You have to take on board what people say otherwise you’re never going to improve. I try not to read too much. I was saying to Gareth on the way here I don’t really know about anything that’s going on in the world at the minute because I’ve come off all that social media stuff, so stuff that’s going on in the day of the life of the world I don’t know.

“I don’t know what's going on in football, don’t know what Premier League fixtures. I couldn’t tell you who’s playing who because someone really close to me said the other week I always look at other clubs in terms of fixtures and results and they just said we can only worry about ourselves. When I actually thought about that, it’s true.

“If we win our games of football at West Ham we will be just fine. There’s no point stressing myself about what other people say and what other people are doing. I can only control what happens with us as players."