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Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Adam Davy
# it's hammer time
18-year-old Irish international Declan Rice makes first start for West Ham at St. Mary's
The teenager impressed during a 30-minute shift against Manchester United last weekend.

AFTER IMPRESSING ON a difficult day for West Ham at Old Trafford last weekend, Republic of Ireland underage international Declan Rice has been rewarded with his first start for the Hammers.

Against Manchester United, the 18-year-old was introduced as a second-half substitute and played half an hour in midfield.

Today, he’s in from the start against Southampton at St. Mary’s.

Earlier this week, boss Slaven Bilic looked back on the 4-0 defeat to United and teased that Rice would continue to be involved with the first-team squad and get more opportunities to impress.

“Declan Rice was a definite positive,” he said.

“He has done well in  pre-season and we put him on for half an hour at Old Trafford. He deserved his chance and took it. He did not look overawed in any way and although it was a difficult match for us, the experience will be invaluable for him.”

Rice was handed a top-flight debut by Bilic back in May when West Ham faced Burnley and has impressed as captain of the club’s U23 side – winning the Young Hammer of the Year award at the end of the 2016/17 campaign.

Originally seen as a centre-back, Rice – also voted as Ireland’s best player at U17 level back in March – was used in a midfield role during pre-season.

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