Hammers boss David Moyes has told midfield talisman Declan Rice to be ready for a position change at West Ham if needed.
The world has been slowly waking up to the supreme talent of West Ham star Rice.
He has had to gradually earn the respect of many rival fans and pundits with top performance after top performance for West Ham and England over the last couple of years culminating with a superb Euros.
The West Ham ace has been compared to the great Steven Gerrard. And yesterday we reported that Rice was flattered having been named the best English midfielder by former Leeds and France star Olivier Dacourt.
From the minute West Ham fans laid eyes on Rice in the first team they knew he was special.
But the likes Graeme Souness and Gary Neville continued to bore everyone to tears with their stubborn insistence that Rice was not a top midfielder and should be playing centre-back instead.
When the suggestions that he should play in defence rather than midfield were put to Rice, he told The Evening Standard he found them ‘laughable’.
To his credit Neville recently admitted he got it all wrong over Rice when he interviewed him for The Overlap.
David Moyes has told Declan Rice to be ready for West Ham position change
And it was during that show that Rice revealed Moyes has told him to be ready for a West Ham position change to central defence if he is needed there.
“At the start you probably was right, I was a centre-back playing in midfield, I was,” Rice said on The Overlap.
“And you could probably see that on the ball, my defensive positioning, I was doing so much more work for the team defensively than I was on the ball. That is true I was probably a centre-back playing in midfield.
“But as time has gone on the more you play in a position, the more comfortable you get with it. I’ve always known I’ve had this ability, it’s just confidence and putting it into place, which I’ve been doing this season which is good.
“I feel like, for the moment, I’m happy in midfield 100 per cent (but) I would never complain if I have to go back to centre-back.
“Like the manager (Moyes) pulled me the other day, (Craig) Dawson might not have made the game, so I was going to play centre half. He made the game (but it would have been) no problem at all, I know the position.
“It’s tough, it’s a totally different game to midfield. Maybe one day when I get older and the legs have gone I might go back to centre half, but at this moment in time I’m loving this midfield role at the minute.”
With Angelo Ogbonna out for the season, the Kurt Zouma saga rumbling on and the jury still out on Issa Diop, the prospect of Rice dropping into defence is not as far fetched as it may seem.
All it would take is one injury or suspension and Rice could find himself back there judging by his comments.
The problem is that would leave a gaping hole in midfield for West Ham.
Although one potential positive could be that it would allow Tomas Soucek – who Moyes has admitted is suffering as a result of Rice’s new box-to-box role – to get back to his natural game, which he did in his midfield partner’s absence in the 4-1 win at Watford back in December.