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Young Ireland Defender Gets Some High Praise On MOTD2

Young Ireland Defender Gets Some High Praise On MOTD2
By PJ Browne

Declan Rice made his third Premier League start of the season for West Ham in their narrow defeat to Man City on Sunday afternoon. It was the Ireland U21 international's eighth appearance in all for the club in the league.

Rice, who is just 18, received plenty of praise from former West Ham and England defender Matthew Upson on Match of the Day 2 last night.

This lad, for his first Premier League start at centre-back - it was his third start in the Premier League but the other two were in midfield - he handled himself brilliantly.

He was in a back three. I thought his decision making, when to come out and when to hold his position in dangerous areas [was good]. He identifies it, releases himself and just tidies up nicely. He did that all afternoon.

I think it's natural but also, he's been working on it. I think it's something he's been doing in training. I think he's very aware of tactically improving at such a young age, just by identifying those positions. Look at his head movement, he's always looking. He sees the run and identifies it.

Rice was at fault for David Silva's 83rd minute winning goal, one which came via a beautifully lofted pass from Kevin de Bruyne. Upson said that the concession of the goal was down to a lack of experience on Rice's behalf.

The goal was very difficult for him. He's got one eye on Aguero, who he was marking initially.

It's just experience, in U23 football, you don't get those type of deliveries coming into the box. That will be a new experience for him - to have someone like De Bruyne whip the ball in with that kind of quality, he's not experienced that before. I think it's something that playing, time and time again, week in, week out, at this level, he's just going to get better.

He's so honest in the way that he plays that he'll be seeing Aguero as his responsibility and just the cleverness of Silva's run and the quality of the delivery, it just took his eye off it and managed to get the wrong side of him.

Phil Neville, who was also on the highlights show, added that he too thought Rice played well and reiterated that it was a deficit of know-how which let the young defender down.


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