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Date: 9th September 2019 at 7:00am
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OPINION

West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice has endured a crazy couple of years at the beginning of his career.

The holding midfield man has broken into the England international set up in the past year and has gone on to earn four caps for Gareth Southgate after the World Cup.

Saturday’s appearance against Bulgaria established the 20-year-old as a big part of Southgate’s plans this season, and Rice fully paid him back for that belief.

Rice found his team-mates with the ball on 95 occasions in the 4-0 victory over the Bulgarians, and only Kieran Trippier [98] completed more passes in the game, according to stats by WhoScored.

One man that was particularly impressed with the young Hammers’ ace was Darren Bent, who drooled over the effect of Rice when speaking to Football Insider.

“He’s playing really well in that role,” the Sky Sports pundit said.

“I know there’s been a bit of talk about him but it seems to have happened overnight. People have spoken about his performances and how well he’s played but I’ve not heard people rave about him.”

“I’ve heard people say he’s played well and started well but I haven’t people speak about him the way they have about other West Ham players. All of a sudden, he’s quietly going about his business and sometimes you need that.”

The recognition is the least Rice deserves after the 20-year-old has had a phenomenal start to the season at the London Stadium.

His defensive stats just further highlight how reliant West Ham are on the young midfielder as he sits in front of the back four for Manuel Pellegrini.

Rice has averaged 3.5 tackles per game so far according to WhoScored, as well as 2.3 interceptions as he continues to look solid in the heart of the Hammers’ side.

The recognition from Bent is the least the 20-year-old deserves, with his impressive international display on Saturday only highlighting his great form so far this season.