Early West Ham team news: Bilic hints at 18-year-old debut v Burnley
By Danny Wright
Slaven Bilic confirmed on Friday that Declan Rice will be in the squad for West Ham’s season ending fixture at Burnley on Sunday and that he could make his senior debut.
The 18-year-old has played a big role in the Hammers’ Under-23 squad this term but is yet to be handed a first-team appearance.
Winston Reid will miss the match as it has recently confirmed the New Zealand international has undergone surgery to heal a chronic problem.
Bilic is willing to put faith in Rice to stand in for the experienced Reid, and hints that the teenage centre-back could be handed his senior debut at Turf Moor by leaking an early piece of team news two days before kick off.
“Declan Rice is one who may play – he’s in the squad. He’s great. He’s done very well for the U23s. He has a bright future,” said the 48-year-old in his pre-match press conference on Friday, as quoted by West Ham’s official Twitter page.
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Rice has featured in 24 matches for the Irons’ development squad this term, playing 20 times in Premier League 2.
He’s captained the side for most of the campaign and even supplied an assist in the 4-0 win at West Brom in April.
The three-times Republic of Ireland Under-19 international is yet to play for the senior side but has been included on the bench on five occasions in the league this season.
West Ham no longer have a realistic chance of finishing in the top half of the Premier League table this term.
Bournemouth and Leicester play each other meaning that neither of those two teams can both be surpassed in the final day while West Brom have a far superior goal difference to Bilic’s men.
In other West Ham news, the Hammers are leading to race to sign this Leeds sensation worth £15million.