West Ham’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League have suffered a major blow after losing Declan Rice to a knee injury, also placing the midfielder’s hopes of representing England at the European Championships in doubt.
Rice, who is out of West Ham’s trip to Wolves on Monday night, picked up the injury during England’s victory over Poland last week and there are fears that the best-case scenario will see him miss at least the next three weeks. The 22-year-old has been wearing a protective brace to limit the damage and is waiting for the swelling to go down, though there are hopes that he will avoid surgery. West Ham are hopeful Rice will be out for a maximum of six weeks.
Club and country will be praying that the injury clears up soon. Rice has been in outstanding form this season and has played a pivotal role in West Ham pushing for Europe. Brilliant at retrieving possession and increasingly confident on the ball, he has emerged as one of the most commanding midfielders in the Premier League and has established himself as a regular in Gareth Southgate’s England side.
Southgate raved about Rice after the Poland game and is certain to include him in his squad for the Euros if he is fit. Rice picked up the knock after an hour against Poland, but he stayed on the pitch and was eventually given the man of the match award. He will be racing against time to return for his first major international tournament if scans show that he does need surgery.
West Ham have little cover in central midfield. The 33-year-old Mark Noble, who is due to leave the club at the end of next season, is in line to deputise for Rice against Wolves.