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A bad day for West Ham at Old Trafford but a huge moment for their teenage Irish international

18-year-old Declan Rice made his debut at the end of last season but was given 30 minutes on Sunday.

Image: Paul Harding

IT WAS A sobering afternoon for West Ham as Manchester United easily brushed them aside in a 4-0 Premier League thumping.

But, there was a silver lining for one of their squad.

18-year-old Irish underage international Declan Rice was introduced as a second-half substitute and racked up half an hour at Old Trafford after replacing Mark Noble.

Though originally seen as a centre-back, Rice – voted Ireland’s best player at U17 level back in March – can also operate in the middle of the park and seems to be highly-rated by boss Slaven Bilic.

The Croatian handed Rice a debut back in May when the Hammers faced Burnley and the youngster seems set to feature heavily this term, having impressed a great deal when captain of the club’s U23 side.

 

Speaking at the end of last season, Bilic gave a glowing assessment of Rice’s ability.

“Declan is very good for his age. He is extremely good, he is mature and it’s all based on the training and he plays very well for the U23s. He has a bright future in him and it’s all down to him.

He played a couple of games in the pre-season when we went to the States and we were missing a few players. I can see him being a really good player.”

Rice was born in London but qualifies for Ireland through his grandparents. He’s been with the Republic of Ireland since U16 level and was called up to Martin O’Neill’s senior squad for the friendly with Uruguay and World Cup qualifier against Austria back in May.

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