Mason Mount and Declan Rice – who was at Chelsea when he was younger – have known each other since they were children
Declan Rice has defended lifelong friend and England team-mate Mason Mount, saying he would get in any team in the Premier League.
Midfielder Mount, 21, has been accused of benefiting from favouritism by some fans as he has become a Chelsea and England regular.
“I know what his mentality is like. I know how driven he is,” Rice said.
“It is no surprise that Gareth [Southgate] picks him and Frank [Lampard] picks him.”
West Ham’s Rice added: “I think if you give every Premier League manager the chance to pick him, they pick him as well because if you see day in, day out what he gives to the team as an individual, he’s a top talent – so I think that the criticism is very harsh.”
Some of the social media criticism of Mount – who has 11 caps – appears to focus around him starting for England instead of in-form Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish.
Mount and Grealish started together in England’s 3-0 friendly win over the Republic of Ireland on Thursday.
“There’s always going to be comparisons but they pretty much play in two different parts of the pitch,” said Rice.
“Mason now at Chelsea is playing as an attacking number eight and Jack is playing off the left.
“I think you could see the other night that they can both play in the same team for sure and they’re both great players that I think we should be valuing.
“For the nation and for me as someone who gets to play with these players we’re lucky that we get to play with such talents.”
England play Belgium on Sunday and Iceland on Wednesday in Nations League games.