Manuel Pellegrini says Declan Rice will always play ahead of Carlos Sanchez

West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed that England international midfielder Declan Rice remains one of the first names on his team sheet.

The 20-year-old has established himself as a starter for the Hammers since becoming a first-team player two seasons ago, and appears to have also secured a spot for himself in the Three Lions’ XI under boss Gareth Southgate.

Rice came under criticism for an error that led to a goal during England’s 5-3 win over Kosovo in the Euros 2020 qualifiers during the international break, but a key interception from him helped his side score at the other end later on.

Despite the quality and experience available within the West Ham ranks, the youngster continues to stand out, and Pellegrini says he will always play except when injured, with Carlos Sanchez named as his cover.

“At 20 you don’t know if you are tired or not. You always want to play,” the Chilean told The Sun.

“If he has any muscle problem then of course we will rest him – we have Carlos Sanchez in that position.

“But for the moment, Declan must continue playing games.”

With 65 top-flight appearances under his belt, Rice is slowly garnering needed experience and getting better, and he is expected to feature at the top for so long for both club and country.

Given his huge potential and enormous talents, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the bigwigs are keen on his services, and it will be interesting to see if West Ham can hold on to him beyond this season after he recently claimed the summer wasn’t the right time to leave the London Stadium.

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