Tony Cottee wants Declan Rice to start for West Ham against Liverpool

West Ham United's Declan Rice and Ipswich Town's Grant Ward during the match between Ipswich Town and West Ham United at Portman Road on July 28, 2018 in Ipswich, England.

West Ham travel to Anfield to face Liverpool on Sunday.

Declan Rice of West Ham United during the Pre-Season Friendly between Preston North End and West Ham United at Deepdale on July 21, 2018 in Preston, England.

Former West Ham United striker Tony Cottee has told the Daily Express that Manuel Pellegrini must start teenage star Declan Rice against Liverpool on Sunday at Anfield.

A new-look West Ham get their season underway with a trip to Merseyside to face last season's Champions League finalists, in what will be Pellegrini's first game in charge.

The Chilean has brought in eight new players this summer, including Lucas Perez from Arsenal on transfer deadline day for what is believed to be a bargain £5million.


Rice, 19, broke into the West Ham side under Slaven Bilic but really made an impact during David Moyes' time at the London Stadium - almost becoming the club's first-choice central defender. Cottee believes the 6ft 1in ace must start.

“Rice needs to be playing,” Cottee said. “The fans will demand that. They won’t accept it if players like Declan get squeezed out. We have some great young talent and that needs to come through.”

West Ham striker Frank McAvennie (l) congratulates fellow goalscorer Tony Cottee, after the pair had each scored in a 2-0 win during a League Division One match between Watford and West...

Pellegrini has given himself plenty of selection dilemmas by bringing in Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, Andriy Yarmolenko, Jack Wilshere and Felipe Anderson.

Rice will be in direct competition with Balbuena and Diop for a start at the centre of defence, along with Angelo Ogbonna and Winston Reid. Though Pellegrini could use the Republic of Ireland international in the middle of the park.

Declan Rice of West Ham during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Ipswich Town and West Ham United at Portman Road on July 28, 2018 in Ipswich, England.

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