Bilic - Rice could feature
Slaven Bilic says West Ham United’s U23 captain Declan Rice could make his first-team debut at Burnley on Sunday.
The manager revealed that, in the absence of Winston Reid, who underwent knee surgery this week, the Republic of Ireland U21 defender could be handed his senior bow at Turf Moor.
With Reid absent and Angelo Ogbonna only recently returning to full training after recovering from his own knee surgery, the in-form Rice could be drafted into action.
The 18-year-old began the campaign by impressing in pre-season fixtures with Seattle Sounders and Carolina RailHawks on the Club’s US Tour before leading the Hammers’ U23 side to promotion via a thrilling Play-Off victory at Newcastle United on Tuesday evening.
“We’re going to see,” the managed began. “We have a game on Sunday and we have many injuries, but he’s one of them that may play. He’s in the squad.
“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 Under-23s. 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.”
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 Under-23s
Bilic also gave a positive update on Reid, who returned to the Club’s Rush Green training ground to commence his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery to remove a piece of bone from his knee.
If all goes to plan, the New Zealander should be back for the start of the new Premier League season in August.
“Reidy is good,” the manager confirmed. “He has done the operation and he’s going to be out for ten weeks, but he’s going to be ready for the start of the new season.
“He’s done well. He can’t play the last game of the season, of course, but he played with pain in the last few games so we decided to do the operation after the Liverpool game.
“The operation was very successful and he will be back in ten weeks’ time.”
When asked for team news in his pre-match press conference, Bilic revealed that Andy Carroll will be unavailable for the trip to Lancashire as he is nursing an ongoing hip injury.
“Andy has got that hip problem and because of that he hasn’t played the last few games and, as I said, it was always 50-50 but he still feels it and it’s not improving,” the manager confirmed.
“He isn’t training and he didn’t train for a long time now, so it’s impossible for him to play, of course.”
Bilic will also be without Mark Noble (abdomen), Diafra Sakho (back), Michail Antonio (hamstring), Cheikhou Kouyate (wrist), Pedro Obiang (knee), Arthus Masuaku and Gokhan Tore (knee).