West Ham United coach Terry Westley has told the club's official website that he felt teenage defender Declan Rice showed he is a 'tremendous captain' with his display against Bristol Rovers.
The Hammers first team suffered heartbreak over the weekend, as Wilfried Zaha's 97th minute equaliser meant West Ham only claimed a 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace having been 2-0 up at Selhurst Park.
On Tuesday night, it was the turn of the West Ham youngsters, as the Under-21's took on Bristol Rovers in the Checkatrade Trophy, and claimed their place in the knockout stages of the competition.
Bristol Rovers took the lead through Tom Nichols, but Toni Martinez hit a goal either side of Martin Samuelsen's strike to hand West Ham a 3-1 victory.
After the final whistle, coach Terry Westley spoke to West Ham's official website, and hailed defender Declan Rice for his display in the heart of the Hammers back line.
Westley claimed that Rice led by example as a 'tremendous captain', with the 18-year-old praise for dealing with the physicality of Bristol Rovers' attack.
“The manner in which we won is extremely satisfying,” said Rice. “We’ve had a hard October, playing Manchester United, Chelsea away, then Manchester City at the weekend and now to finish it off against a League One side, who had a very strong team out today, we took it to them.”
“After a disastrous start, it just shows the character of this group led by a tremendous captain in Declan Rice and beside him Josh Pask, as centre-halves they really got to grips with what Bristol Rovers threw at us. It was hard at times, having to keep heading the balls but when we got it down, we passed them off the pitch. 3-1 could have easily been more than that,” he added.
Rice has already started two Premier League games this season, and after being praised for his performance and his leadership against Bristol Rovers, the Irishman may now be throw into the first team against Liverpool this weekend.
The Mirror have noted this week that centre backs James Collins, Winston Reid and Jose Fonte are all injured right now, meaning Rice may be forced to start – and that would present a huge step-up from facing Bristol Rovers.