Wednesday 17 October 2018

Young Irish prospect gets rave reviews on Match of the Day after strong display against Man City

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City vs West Ham United - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - December 3, 2017 West Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna celebrates scoring their first goal with Declan Rice. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City vs West Ham United - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - December 3, 2017 West Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna celebrates scoring their first goal with Declan Rice. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Ireland prospect Declan Rice received some high praise on Match of the Day after his performance against league leaders Man City at the Ethiad yesterday.

Pep Guardiola's men struck late to snatch a 2-1 win against West Ham, and although Rice was caught out for David Silva's winner, he acquitted himself well in his first Premier League start at centre back for the Hammers.

Rice is just 18 and has already represented Ireland at U21 level, with a senior cap likely to come sooner rather than later if he can maintain this level of performance over the rest of the season.

Speaking on Match of the Day 2 last night, former West Ham defender Matthew Upson heaped praise on Rice.

"This lad, for his first Premier League start at centre-back - he’s started two before so it’s his third start in the Premier League, but they were in midfield," Upson said.

"He handled himself brilliantly. He was in a back three and I thought his decision-making — when to come out and when to hold his position — like in these types of dangerous areas where he identifies it, releases himself and just tidies up nicely.

"It’s something he has been doing in training, I think he’s very aware of tactically improving at such a young age."

Upson admitted that Rice was caught out by Kevin de Bruyne's brilliant assist for Silva's goal, which colleague Phil Neville agreed with - but the former Man United and Everton defender was still similarly impressed with the youngster's display.

"It’s a great learning experience for him today because he did play really well but for the big moment in the game, he switched off for a split second," Neville said.

"Like Matt said, he would never had played against someone with the ability to put it exactly at the right spot — just over his head where he couldn’t reach it.

“He did play really well. The test now is can he do it against Chelsea in the next game and can he do it against Arsenal?”

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