2018 has been a pretty barren year for the Irish team, what with missing the World Cup and left with the miserable consolation of a string of meaningless friendlies. There has, however, been one shining beacon of hope: the emergence of Declan Rice.
The West Ham youngster is fully committed to Ireland and, having made his debut at centre-back against Turkey, he excelled in midfield in the June friendly against the United States.
Given that Ireland have a decent selection of centre-backs, Rice would solve a number of problems if he can continue to excel in midfield. With all of this in mind, Irish fans can't but be encouraged by Rice's performance in (admittedly) a pre-season friendly win against Aston Villa.
Rice played as a defensive midfielder, and Twitter's West Ham Goals spliced together the highlights of his first-half performance. Throughout the game, Rice always found himself in the right position to break up attacks, all the while looking extremely comfortable on the ball.
Watch the highlights below.
Another classy performance from the young @_DeclanRice last night.
Here are his highlights from the first half⚒ pic.twitter.com/IoBTrn7NaR
— West Ham Goals (@WHU_Goals) July 26, 2018
West Ham have yet to renew Rice's contract, something they should get around to sharpish in the opinion of a number of Hammers fans:
— ⚒ lee oatham ⚒ (@LOatham) July 25, 2018
I know it’s only a friendly but what brilliant mature performance by @_DeclanRice in midfield ⚒
— Freelancer Ben (@FreelancerBen_) July 25, 2018
A word on Declan Rice, £30,000 a week + bonus’s is ample for a player with his potential, if he performs this season as we expect him to ,then the sky’s the limit, but Sullivan has to repeat this windows spending to improve the team so that we keep young players like him.⚒⚒⚒
— Bob austin (@bobaustin65) July 27, 2018
All of the board's hard work this summer will be ruined if they don't give Declan Rice the contract he deserves.
Only 19 years old and has so much potential. Played 26 games last season and plays 2 positions comfortably. MOTM for Ireland in his last 3 games. #COYI #WHU pic.twitter.com/fOuBIcWSgV
— COYIrons (@COYIrons_com) July 24, 2018
If new manager Manuel Pelligrini continues to show faith in Rice as a midfielder for the season ahead, it is very good news for Ireland.