By Gabriel Agbonlahor

16th Sep, 2022 | 10:00am

Agbonlahor: West Ham now prepared to axe Declan Rice as footage emerges

David Moyes will now be comfortable dropping Declan Rice from the West Ham starting XI if he is not performing, according to Gabby Agbonlahor.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Aston Villa and England attacker delivered his verdict after Flynn Downes made his full debut for the Hammers.

Downes started the 3-1 win over FCSB in the Europa Conference League last week (8 September) and put in a man-of-the-match display.

The 22-year-old, who is a boyhood Hammer, moved to the London Stadium from Swansea City in the summer.

He had been limited to three substitute appearances before making his first start with Tomas Soucek and Rice firmly established as Moyes’ first-choice midfield pairing.

“You always want competition for places,” Agbonlahor told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley.

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“There’s nothing better than when you’re players know that if they don’t perform they are going to be out. It doesn’t matter if it’s Soucek, Rice or Antonio or anyone.

“You need competition for places, otherwise players get comfortable. I think it’s a good thing.

“Hoepfully, he gives David Moyes a selection headache. Managers say they don’t like it but they do. They want options and be able to play players on form, not because they’ve got no other options.”

Downes may have the chance to build on his full debut with West Ham back in Europa Conference League action later this week.

The Hammers travel to Denmark to face Rosenborg on Thursday (15 September).

In other news, Kieran Maguire has claimed the UK Government are likely livid with West Ham as a Russian alliance emerges.