Declan Rice: We need to lift our heads up
Declan Rice says there is no time for West Ham United to feel sorry for themselves after they slipped to a 2-0 defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.
The Hammers were faced with the task of taking on high-flying Wolves after a 105-day halt to Premier League action, and looked solid in defence for much of the London Stadium clash.
But the introduction of Adama Traore and Pedro Neto from the bench swung the contest the visitors' way, with Traore first laying on Raul Jimenez's 73rd-minute opener, before Neto sealed their win with a thumping volley eleven minutes later.
Rice, who slotted in at centre-back for the first time since May 2018 with Angelo Ogbonna unavailable for selection due to injury, was disappointed with the nature of the goals which settled the contest.
With Tottenham Hotspur next on the agenda in just three days' time, the England man knows his team cannot afford to let this defeat define their season.
"In the position we’re in we can't be dropping points," he said. "We need to lift our heads up [for Tuesday].
"Obviously the goals are sloppy [and tough] to take. Traore came on and they were two great crosses, but we’ve got to deal with them. We were happy with our performance [to that point], but we need to be better.
"I think it’s a case of taking our chances. We had one in the first half for [Pablo] Fornals and I don’t think he knew Michail [Antonio] was there [unmarked to his left].
"We’re creating some good chances but not taking them, and it’s the other side of the game too where we need to stay switched on for the full 90 minutes. We can’t concede sloppy goals because in recent games that’s happened too much.
"Against Brighton [in February] we were 3-1 up and drew 3-3 and there’s no time left to do that so it’s at both ends of the pitch."
We need to lift our heads up [for Tuesday]. I’ve got to be a leader and I’ve got to talk so that’s what I do - I speak to the players and try to encourage them.
For Rice himself, the start at centre-back was his first in that position for over two years, but he felt it was a seamless transition back to where he began his senior career.
"I felt comfortable," he explained. "As has been said before, it’s a position I’ve played before and when the Gaffer pulled me during the week and said he wants me to play there, there were no questions asked - I’d go back there and do a job for the team.
"I tried my best and tried to impose that. When I play at the back I can see the whole game. I’ve got to be a leader and I’ve got to talk because I can see everything that’s going on. If I keep my mouth shut the other players wouldn’t know what’s going on, so that’s what I do - I speak to the players and try to encourage them.
"We went 1-0 down and we’ve got to keep our heads up and push each other on, to give us the spurt to maybe go on and get a goal.
"It didn’t happen, but I’ll keep talking to them in every game."