Rice to miss England’s final WCup qualifiers through illness

LONDON (AP) — England will have to seal qualification for the 2022 World Cup without its first-choice midfielder.

Declan Rice withdrew from the squad for upcoming games against Albania and San Marino, with England saying the holding midfielder has been “unable to train due to illness” since reporting for duty on Monday.

Rice has returned to his Premier League club, West Ham.

England is not planning to bring in a replacement for Rice.

Mason Mount and Luke Shaw have yet to link up with the squad following dental surgery and concussion, respectively, and continue to be assessed, England said.

England needs a maximum of four points from its games against Albania at home on Friday and San Marino away on Monday to finish first in its group and earn automatic qualification to next year’s tournament in Qatar.

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