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Rampaging Rice shows class and maturity beyond his years

PUBLISHED: 14:30 18 September 2018

West Ham United's Declan Rice

West Ham United's Declan Rice

PA Wire/PA Images

Hammers youngster comes through his troubles to show true class

West Ha United's Declan Rice (right) and Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson battle for the ballWest Ha United's Declan Rice (right) and Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson battle for the ball

Up until Sunday, you could say that things have not been going well for West Ham starlet Declan Rice.

He was hauled off at half time at Liverpool unable to cope with the speedy Reds midfield.

Then he received some stinging criticism at the possibility of switching international allegiances from the Republic of Ireland to England.

For some 19-year-olds, it would have been all too much and he would have remained on the sidelines, but not Rice – he is made of sterner stuff.

West Ham United's Declan RiceWest Ham United's Declan Rice

His second-half performance at Goodison Park on Sunday was stunning. His statistics for the whole game read: two blocks; three clearances; 4 of 5 tackles won; six duels won; 11 ball recoveries and 82 per cent pass completion.

Extraordinary stats, but he did so much more than that. His efforts allowed both Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang to roam further forward and create goals, while his presence added steel to the spine of the Hammers team.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Rice after the 3-1 win. “Obviously the first week against Liverpool was tough for me and I knew in myself I had to improve. We’d worked on the tactics all week with me in there with Pedro and ‘Nobes’ and it paid off – it was a really great moment for all of us.”

Rice showed a maturity well beyond his years and though he may have his ups and downs to come, it looks like his place in the team could be secured for some time to come.

“It’s good that I can play in two positions, as a centre-back or as a holding midfielder,” he added.

“Like you saw in the second half, I can take control of a game and start passing it left and right as well as helping out with the defensive bits with Issa (Diop) and Fabian (Balbuena), who I thought were excellent.

“I thought it was a collective great team performance, so hopefully we can keep it going.”

It certainly was and much of the praise for that must go to the manager who had faith in him and his midfield partners.

For Rice himself, the sky is the limit, though he will face an even bigger test on Sunday against the likes of Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic.

He seems to be able to shake off bad performances and criticism off the field and that is a further sign of his maturity. It looks like West Ham and maybe England have a fine player.

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