Declan Rice may have doubted his chances of reaching the top but West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini has revealed he always had faith in the youngster.
Rice recently admitted that after losing his place following a torrid afternoon in a 4-0 defeat at Liverpool on the opening day of the season, he feared he would not make it in the Premier League and considered asking for a loan move.
Yet on Saturday evening Rice will line up against Manchester United as a mainstay of the West Ham team, an England international and a target for a host of top clubs.
After four straight league defeats Pellegrini eventually restored Rice to the side for a 3-1 win at Everton – and the 20-year-old has been there ever since.
Pellegrini said: “I never expected that Declan was going to go on loan at the beginning of the season.
“I don’t know why he thought that as he had no options to go on loan. Maybe he was disappointed because he played the first game, which we lost, but I spoke with him the same day and told him he was going to be an important player this season.
“Maybe it is a surprise for him, because last season he played not too many games, then started this season losing and being out of the team for the next games.
“Maybe he thought that. I never had any doubt about that.”
Rice, along with his team-mates, struggled to handle Chelsea and Eden Hazard in a 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
Nevertheless he is a player in demand, although Pellegrini has been quick to shoot down rumours of a summer exit, insisting: “Declan is a player of our team and is playing very well.
“Chelsea have very good players but I think the performance from Declan against Chelsea is exactly the same as it was against Cardiff. He is learning in every game that he plays.”
Michail Antonio is back in the West Ham squad for the trip to Old Trafford after shaking off an ankle knock.
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