David Moyes is anxiously awaiting updates on Declan Rice’s fitness after the West Ham United midfielder was ruled out of Monday’s trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
That’s according to The Telegraph, who note that Rice sustained a serious knee injury while representing England against Poland during the international break.
Rice’s hopes of featuring at this summer’s European Championships are now in danger, with the current timeframe on a return expected to be four to six weeks.
Rice is claimed to have been wearing a protective brace on his knee to prevent any further damage and will undergo scans to determine the severity once the swelling has subsided.
It is currently unclear if the 22-year-old will need surgery, which would come as a huge blow for Moyes and England manager Gareth Southgate who are awaiting updates.
Rice is said to have sustained the issue around an hour into the Three Lions’ 2-1 win over Poland last Wednesday, but remained on the field to deliver a Man of the Match display.
A worst-case scenario could see Rice miss the remainder of the season and potentially Euro 2020, should he require an operation, while a best-case outcome will still be expected to see him miss clashes with top-four rivals Leicester City, Chelsea and Everton.
Rice has been in outstanding form all season and has played an instrumental role in the Irons’ challenge for Champions League qualification, having yet missed a second of Premier League football.
The £60k-per-week star will now miss his first top-flight match since May 2019 when the London Stadium natives visit Wolves on Monday night, looking to claim a first victory at Molineux since August 2009.
Moyes will be extremely concerned over how West Ham’s season will end if Rice is to play no further part, and will have to face his own fears over how to live without the midfielder.
The Hammers boss stated back in November that he was fearful of becoming too reliant on Rice, but had stretched the £100m midfielder’s run of Premier League starts to 68 in a row prior to the international break.
“He is such an improved player,” Moyes said, via quotes by the Independent. “I really think he is doing a great job as a player and we are building up hope that he will be an outstanding captain.
“The role, his responsibility he takes on the pitch because of his young age, his leadership qualities will build. He has learned from Harry Kane and Mark Noble. My biggest concern – and I know he is young – would be that I don’t want us to rely too heavily on him.”
Moyes will now have to rely on Noble standing in for Rice over the next month or so with the 33-year-old the only central midfield cover available, which could see the Irons captain start successive Premier League games for only the second time this season.
Noble struggled to keep up with the pace of the opposition during his most recent start, with Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood turning the veteran inside out with a run Peter Crouch would describe as “scandalous”.
Noble will now have to step up and shake off the cobwebs if West Ham are to be without Rice for much of the rest of the season, and ensure his side are no worse off if they are to qualify for Europe.
AND in other news, West Ham trail a Premier League rival for a five-goal, seven-assist star once labelled an “exciting prospect”…