Rice: We more than held our own against world class players

Declan Rice

2017/18 has been a steep learning curve for Declan Rice, but the 19-year-old defender passed another test with flying colours on Thursday night by helping the Hammers to a creditable 0-0 draw against Manchester United.

Rice has now made 25 Premier League appearances in a breakthrough campaign and he was delighted to come out on top in a tussle with the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard.

The Red Devils’ front three could find no way through against a Hammers backline who were keeping a second consecutive Premier League clean sheet for the first time in 2018.

West Ham’s defensive solidity meant Rice could wear a broad smile as he left the London Stadium pitch on Thursday, able to tick off another useful experience.

“I think they’ve got some unbelievable players,” he explained. “When you look at the team before the game and you see you’re up against Sanchez, Lingard, Pogba, you know you’re in for a tough night.

Declan Rice tackles Alexis Sanchez

“I knew what I was up against, I analysed it, and we knew we had to come out with a clean sheet. It’s another point and a good night all round.

“We have an understanding at the back and I think it’s because we all get on so well. Off the pitch, me, Zab, Angelo, Cress, Arthur, they’re all good lads. We talk to each other every day, we’re always in meetings together analysing and we’re ending the season strongly.”

There is still one experience for Rice to come to round the season off as the Hammers entertain Everton on Sunday, and with the pressure of trying to secure Premier League safety off, he is convinced the team can go out and enjoy themselves.

He added: “To know we were safe at the weekend was a real relief and we could go out there on Thursday and enjoy it. Picking up another point was good, we’ve got Everton on Sunday now and we want to end strongly."