Stuart Pearce has delivered a positive verdict on West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, who he’s compared to goalkeeper Joe Hart for his professionalism.
Rice, 21, has become a key first-team player since breaking into the squad from the academy and had his best season so far in the 2019/20 campaign.
He didn’t miss a single minute during the 38 Premier League games for the Hammers and his reputation has continued to grow within the game.
The versatile star has mainly been used in a midfield role in front of the backline, but has dropped in at centre-back too when needed.
Pearce previously worked as a coach at West Ham when Rice was coming into the senior group and he’s made a comparison with Hart.
Hart, 33, is a goalkeeper that has seen his career decline rapidly in recent years and he’s currently a free agent, but he broke into the Manchester City team at a young age and has 75 senior international caps for England.
“He’s enjoying his football in the centre of midfield at the moment looking at him. He’s improving,” Pearce told talkSPORT.
“I don’t think you’re signing the complete article if anyone gets Declan Rice. Year on year I expect to see improvement from him.
“If you’re asking me is he a good professional and a very grounded kid yes he is. Reminded me a little bit of a very young Joe Hart actually when I first met Declan. A good kid and he’s one of those you’d want him in your dressing room.”
TBR’s View – Rice can have long England career like Hart
It seems an age ago now, but there was a time when Hart was a top-class goalkeeper for Man City and England, so a comparison between him and Rice in terms of attitude is a positive one for the West Ham youngster.
Rice has got so much potential to go on and become an elite player, which is why there is often so much transfer speculation around him.
There certainly appears to be a gap in the England squad for somebody to nail down a role as the defensive midfielder sweeping up in front of the back four and the West Ham man has already earned seven caps for the Three Lions, which shows he’s firmly in the thoughts of manager Gareth Southgate.