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World Cup: Declan Rice bullish on England prospects

England have achieved part one of their mission to win the World Cup by getting through the group stage and Declan Rice believes no one will want to play the Three Lions during the knockout stages.

West Ham midfielder Rice has been integral in helping Gareth Southgate's side top Group B and set up a round-of-16 showdown with Africa Cup of Nations champions Senegal on Sunday.

Everything seems to be aligning for a quarter-final clash with reigning and defending champions France and Rice believes that every other country should fear England.

What: England v Senegal
Where: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
When: 19:00, Sunday 4th December 2022
How to watch: ITV1
Odds: England 8/15, Draw 11/4, Senegal 13/2

Second-half Welsh fireworks lit England's flame

England head into the knockout stages of the World Cup feeling upbeat after the way they signed off their Group B campaign.

Their opening 6-2 demolition of Iran was impressive, though spirits were immediately tempered by a disappointing 0-0 draw against a lively USA.

Southgate made changes and was rewarded with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Wales, with two goals from Marcus Rashford and one from Phil Foden - neither of whom had started either of the first two matches.

Rashford now has three for the tournament and is 4/6 to finish up as top England scorer. Two-goal Bukayo Saka is 4/1, while Harry Kane - who has three assists but no goals - is now 10/1.

"He can definitely win the Golden Boot," said England midfielder Declan Rice of Rashford. "He is lightning quick and the technique he's got. He's had a tough year but no one doubted him."

Strength in depth gives Southgate food for thought

Rashford becomes a tough man to drop after his Welsh double given Southgate much to mull over in terms of selecting his forwards for England's second-round clash with Group A runners-up Senegal at the Al Bayt Stadium.

But Rice is confident that it's those abundant choices which help make England stand out from the field and pose such a threat at these finals as they chase down a first world crown since 1966.

"It's always nice to know you can bring players off the bench who can instantly change the game," said the West Ham midfielder.

"Whether we're drawing 0-0 and need a freshen up up front, or we need a change in legs in midfield, or even at the back, we've got players that are world class that can come on and change the game instantly.

"Throughout a World Cup you're going to need that quality. Other nations will look at our quality and why should we not be feared.

"We're not just here to get into the last 16. We're here to go all the way. We have got world-class talent and players across the board who have won the game's biggest trophies. We are one of the biggest teams here."

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Senegal a step up but Rice remains ready

England might be a big side - currently the fifth-ranked team in the world - but Sunday's opponents Senegal aren't far behind at 18, and the Three Lions won't be taking them lightly says Rice.

Aliou Cisse's men, 13/2 outsiders over 90 minutes and 10/3 to qualify, lost 2-0 to Netherlands in their Group A opener, before hitting back with impressive wins against Qatar and Ecuador to reach the second round for just the second time.

And it's a squad packed with quality, featuring half-a-dozen Premier League stars, including Chelsea duo Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly.

"There have been a lot of shocks so you can't take anything for granted," said Rice. "We've had a good focus throughout the group games but now we face a bigger test against Senegal who are a strong, athletic team."

England are 8/15 to win inside 90 minutes, 9/1 to win in extra-time and 10/1 to win on penalties, once a dreaded scenario given the Three Lions' long and frustrating history with shootouts.

But Rice, who has never taken a penalty for England after being substituted before their shootout against Italy in the Euro 2020 final, is confident that times have changed.

"Since Gareth came in we have really shifted our mindset on penalties," he said. "The win against Colombia in 2018 was really big and we are really big on it. We are going to be really well prepared and I'm really confident if we need to take penalties."

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