Rice: Everyone is here to catch the eye of the new manager
The 19-year-old became a key player for the Hammers last season, playing 31 times and making the right centre-back position his own under first Slaven Bilic, then David Moyes.
However, with a new manager in place in Pellegrini, Rice knows he and his teammates are all starting from square one when it comes to nailing down a starting place in 2018/19.
It’s a new manager coming in and I think everyone has got a fresh start under him. I can’t wait to show him what I’m about and what I can do
“It’s really good to be back,” he began. “After a positive end to last season, then going away for some international games and obviously the incoming of the new manager, it’s really good to be back and I can’t wait for a few more days out here.
“It’s a new manager coming in and I think everyone has got a fresh start under him. I can’t wait to show him what I’m about and what I can do.
“I played 32 or 33 times last year and I want to carry on this year. I want to keep playing games and keep improving and learning.”
While Rice and company seek to impress Pellegrini and his staff, the Republic of Ireland international says the new coaching team have also made a positive impact on the players.
“The first impressions are really good. I just said ‘Hello’ and trained under all of them for the first time this week, so hopefully I made an impression and that’s what everyone else is here to do, to impress them and show them what they can do over the course of the 12 days. So far, it’s really good.
“The manager told us the hard work starts now and we’ve got a full season of hard work ahead.
“He had a meeting on Tuesday night to talk about tactical and technical things but, overall, he wants to see us playing. He’s watched us training and he wants to get to know everyone.”
With a new manager and backroom team in place and perfect conditions and facilities for pre-season training in Bad Ragaz, Rice says there is a tangible feeling of optimism and excitement among the squad.
“I think the lads were talking about it after training on Tuesday. It was the first day and we were straight into a game at the end of the session which, as a player, you like because it makes it fun and gets everyone involved. It’s really good.
“Pre-season does have a different feel to it [this year]. We’re in a nice place here and we just want to crack on and get to work and obviously we’ve got our first game on Sunday.”
Rice and his teammates will embark on two days of intensive work which will see them train three times on both Thursday and Friday before opening their pre-season fixture list with a trip to Swiss Challenge League club FC Winterthur on Sunday afternoon.
The Hammers will also tackle Wycombe Wanderers, Preston North End, Aston Villa and Ipswich Town before kicking-off the 2018/19 Premier League campaign at Liverpool on Saturday 11 August.