Keira Walsh column: England’s midfield is not a problem, Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham can do everything

Keira Walsh column: England’s midfield is not a problem, Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham can do everything

Just a few days now until England get going against Iran and at this point before the Euros in the summer I can remember just being really excited.

You've had all the build-up and you feel like you’ve been waiting all season for it to come.

In training, you probably taper off a bit, it’s not as intense as normal. For us, the day before a match is always about having fun, getting touches on the ball.

For most players, until you’re actually into the tournament, injury is still slightly in the back of your head and if there’s a 50-50 challenge in training some people might think about pulling out, which is fair. I usually try to avoid Georgia Stanway - some of her slide tackles are not the best timed!

Of course, you don’t always know if you’re going to be playing. People are still competing for places and we made a bit of a conscious effort that we would try to manage those emotions in ours rooms, like if you were frustrated because you thought you weren’t going to be starting, and then outside it really put the team first.

At the last World Cup, I did end up starting the first game but going into the tournament I wasn’t sure. There’d been camps where I’d play the first game and not the second and that in itself is really difficult - that unknown is probably more difficult than coming to terms with not playing.

Sarina Wiegman was really good on that front, she made it really clear what your role was going to be and that helped massively with my headspace. I could really focus on starting the games well.

At the last couple of men’s tournaments, people have blamed England’s midfield for not being able to control those big games against Croatia and Italy but I’m not sure putting the onus on them is 100 per cent correct. People always look at the midfield when they talk about control but with the way we play, for example, there’s a real focus on playing out from the back and you’ve got to be given the ball first to be able to dictate.

That said, you do always need that player in midfield who can set the tempo, and Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham are both capable of that.

Declan is probably one of the best midfielders in the world at the moment and then Jude is just a special, special player. You never look at him and think he's a young boy playing in a men's team. I watched him play against Manchester City and they're supposed to be the top team in the Premier League with probably the best midfield.

He's in there and he's making it difficult for them, playing toe-to-toe with Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri and sometimes he's outshining them. This might be his tournament to really shows the world he means business.

They compliment each other really well because they can both get box-to-box. Jude’s really good at driving with the ball, has really quick feet in tight situations and scores lots of goals for Borussia Dortmund but if you watch Declan for West Ham, he’s everywhere as well, he’s not just that sitting player.

I know what that's like from when I play next to Georgia - she’s naturally more offensive but I trust her to hold for me, so if there is that space I feel confident enough to go and attack. That's massive because as a holding midfielder the last thing you want to do is leave that space behind you. You don't want to vacate the middle of the pitch because when you're playing against top teams, that's where their best players will be.

That's what really helped me at the Euros, playing next to someone. At the last World Cup, I was on my own in a single pivot and against top teams it is a lot of work. You're also very easy to mark because their No10 can just stand opposite you and that makes it a lot more difficult to dictate the game.

Having a midfield two and being a bit more free with the rotations makes you less predictable and that will definitely help England, both with playing out from the back and creating more opportunities.

I wouldn’t forget about the importance of Jordan Henderson either. He’s like Jill Scott was for us, in those tough moments you can rely on him to pick everyone up. I’m not particularly sure how he does it but when he comes on you can see he gets everyone around him going and when he plays the pressing is so much more intense. Having a player of that experience and that personality type is massive around the squad and certainly not to be undervalued.