West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has withdrawn from the England squad because of illness. Image Credit: Supplied

London: West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice has withdrawn from the England squad ahead of their World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino due to illness, the Premier League club said.

England, who sit top of Group I with 20 points - three ahead of Poland - from eight games, host Albania tomorrow before travelling to San Marino on Monday to conclude their qualifying campaign.

“West Ham United can confirm that Declan Rice has returned to the Club from international duty with England due to illness,” the club said in a statement, adding that the illness was not related to COVID-19.

Return to training

“He will now recover before returning to training at Rush Green ahead of the Hammers’ Premier League fixture at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday 20 November.”

England said they would not call up a replacement for the 22-year-old but added that midfielder Mason Mount and left back Luke Shaw were yet to join up with the squad due to dental surgery and concussion, respectively.

Rice, capped 27 times by the national team, has been a regular under manager Gareth Southgate since his debut in 2019. He played all seven of England’s games at Euro 2020 where they lost in the final to Italy.

Meanwhile, England right back Reece James is enjoying the best form of his career ahead of their 2022 World Cup qualifiers, the 21-year-old said.

Four goals

James, who withdrew from the last England squad due to injury, has four goals and four assists for Chelsea in 12 games in all competitions this season.

“I’d say at this moment in time, this is probably the best I’ve performed, and recent results and performances have probably shown that as well,” James told a news conference.

“Our team (Chelsea) is performing well and we’re creating a lot of chances, so that’s obviously helping and we’ve got great players around us.

“When you’re playing week in and week out, you’re playing well and the team’s performing, keeping clean sheets and winning games, it obviously helps everyone build confidence.”