West Ham face the prospect of being without Declan Rice for a month, and possible the rest of the season, after the midfielder picked up a knee injury.
Rice, 22, returned from international duty with England last week and has been immediately ruled out of Monday’s clash with Wolves. Rice now faces further tests to determine the extent of the injury. However, the Daily Telegraph reports he could miss the rest of the season.
That would come as a blow of huge magnitude to West Ham. David Moyes’ side take on Wolves tonight knowing a win can lift them fourth in the table. But the loss of their star man – an ever-present this season – would seriously damage their prospects.
The news will also come as a major concern for Gareth Southgate. The 22-year-old midfielder has emerged as one of the first names on the England team sheet. Indeed, he looked a shoo-in to make the 23-man squad for the European Championships this summer. Southgate is also already sweating on Jordan Henderson’s fitness, so he can ill-afford to lose Rice as well.
Rice’s place in the side will be taken by the long-serving Mark Noble on Monday evening. Moyes is certain to provide an update on the player’s fitness before kick-off at Molineux.
Reacting to the news on talkSPORT, Tony Cascarino said: “When you look at the role Fabinho does at Liverpool and that N’Golo Kante does for Chelsea, that is what Rice does for West Ham.
“He sits, he can pick things, he can see things, players trust him. He does the simplistic things that can affect a team really well, and he keeps the ball.
“It is a huge blow. He is West Ham’s best player.
“David Moyes has done an exceptional job of finding solutions and that is what he has to do with Declan Rice out now.”
Moyes hints bids will be heard for Rice
Rice’s importance to West Ham cannot be overstated. Indeed, it was claimed earlier this season that the club rated him in the £100m bracket, such is his importance.
The midfielder has been strongly linked with Manchester United and Chelsea, among others.
“Yes, any club can make offers for players but we’ve not had any big offers,” Moyes said.
“I hope we don’t get any but if we do, like any other club, we would consider them.
“I don’t know where the Bank of England is for Tomas Soucek. But I’ve said with Declan, it would take the Bank of England and the Royal Bank of Scotland to get him.
“It will have to be the Bank of Czech as well for Tomas!”