David Moyes

Team News: Moyes hopeful on Rice fitness

David Moyes confirmed Declan Rice has travelled with his West Ham United squad for Thursday’s UEFA Europa League round of 16 first-leg tie with Sevilla.

The Hammers’ England international midfielder missed Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League defeat at Liverpool through a non-COVID illness.

However, the 22-year-old returned to full training with his teammates at Rush Green on Wednesday morning and flew out from London Stansted Airport to southern Spain in the afternoon.

Speaking to journalists at his press conference at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium on Wednesday evening, manager Moyes was asked if the No41 would be fit enough to start, he said Rice would do if he was fit and well on Thursday.

“He trained today [Wednesday] for the first time,” said the Scot. “He didn’t train yesterday [on Tuesday]. He trained today and he’s sort of been really unwell with it, whatever he’s had, a bug of some sort. But he’s with us and if Dec is fit and available then he’ll certainly play.”

Declan Rice

While Rice is hoping to be fit enough to face the record six-times Europa League winners, Moyes will be without Jarrod Bowen, who suffered a heel injury at Anfield on Saturday, and long-term absentee Angelo Ogbonna, who underwent surgery after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his knee in the home win over Liverpool at London Stadium in November.

Moyes is confident that while Bowen will be missed, his squad will be able to cope with the forward's absence.

It does change how we play a little bit because Jarrod has a bit of an X-factor which you need up front," he observed. "He’s been in really good form in the past two or three months. Will it change us a great deal? I don’t think so, but we will be missing an important player, just as Seville will be missing important players as well.

Sevilla themselves have injury concerns, with centre-backs Diego Carlos and Karim Rekik, midfielder Fernando, left-back Gonzalo Montiel and forwards Suso, Anthony Martial and Papu Gomez all missing their goalless La Liga draw at Alaves last time out.

Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney is suspended, while Argentina forward Erik Lamela is ineligible, but Moyes is taking nothing for granted against Julen Lopetegui’s strong and talented squad.

“It’s difficult because we have injuries also,” he explained. “We’ve had Angelo Ogbonna out for a long time who is an Italian international and we’ve got Jarrod Bowen out for this game who has been in great form for us over the last month or two, so we’ve got injuries ourselves.

“From what I’ve seen from Sevilla I think they have got a very strong squad of players, so we’re going to have to play well, but hopefully we’ll be able to push Sevilla well.