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Moyes backs Rice to develop into ‘goalscoring midfielder’


D

avid Moyes says Declan Rice can still go up a level and has backed the England international to become a “goalscoring midfielder” after his clincher against Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday.

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Rice added West Ham’s second goal five minutes into the second half, as they began their Europa League campaign with an impressive 2-0 win in the Croatian capital in their first-ever European group game.

The 22-year-old picked up a loose pass on the halfway line, surged forward and fired between the goalkeeper’s legs to give the visitors a deserved cushion after Michail Antonio’s 22nd-minute goal.

Rice scored just twice for the Hammers last season, including a penalty, but found the net on England duty in Hungary earlier this month, and Moyes says he is working to go up a level.

“He’s played international football for his country but not for his club,” Moyes said. “So I think it’s something he’s having to get used to as well. It’s only the start.

“He’s trying to take himself to the next level. He’s a terrific player, he’s getting better. He’s shown it in his performance tonight.

“He was the captain of West Ham for the first time in Europe for a long time away from home, scores a goal as well which probably makes the game much more comfortable.

“So from that point of view, we have seen a real development. You mustn’t forget he is still 22 years old, and a young boy with a big future and a big career ahead of him. One step at a time but he is doing really well for us.

“The thing about it [the goal] is his ability to surge away from people, the power and speed. It is a great trait he has got and we would like him to use it more.

“If you can remember the last game of the season last year against Southampton, it was a little bit similar to that goal when he broke away and scored.

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