Eight Wounds

News for nerds

West Ham’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League have sustained a major blow after losing Declan Rice to a knee injury, also placing the midfielder’s hopes of representing England at the European Championship finals in doubt.

Rice, who is out of West Ham’s trip to Wolves on Monday night, picked up the injury during England’s win against Poland last week and there are fears that in the best-case scenario he will miss the next three weeks at least.

Alongside a picture of himself with his thumb up, Rice posted on Twitter on Monday night: “Rehab has started. Gutted to be missing the game tonight. Overwhelmed by all the support but I’ll be back in no time. Come on the boys!” The 22-year-old midfielder has been wearing a protective brace to limit the damage and is waiting for the swelling to go down, though there are hopes he will avoid surgery. West Ham are hopeful Rice will be out for a maximum of six weeks.

Club and country will be praying the injury clears up soon. Rice has been in outstanding form this season and has played a pivotal role in West Ham pushing for Europe. Brilliant at retrieving possession and increasingly confident on the ball, he has emerged as one of the most commanding midfielders in the Premier League and has established himself as a regular in Gareth Southgate’s England side.

Southgate raved about Rice after the Poland game and is certain to include him in his squad for the European Championship if he is fit. Rice picked up the knock after an hour against Poland, but he stayed on the pitch and was named as man of the match. He will be racing against time to return for his first major international tournament if scans show he does need surgery.

West Ham have little cover in central midfield. The 33-year-old Mark Noble, who is due to leave the club at the end of next season, is in line to deputise for Rice against Wolves.