Exclusive: West Ham legend tips underrated duo for England, plus thoughts on potential Chelsea raids and Declan Rice’s best position

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Former West Ham star George Parris was pleased to see his old club win so convincingly at the weekend as they continue to be without manager David Moyes.

The Hammers boss has been absent for the last few games as he’s self isolated after contracting coronavirus, but performances and results have been very good and Parris believes the Scot will still be having a strong influence even if he’s not able to be with his players on the training ground or on matchday.

“I’m sure he’ll still be having an influence,” Parris told CaughtOffside. “I’m sure throughout the game someone’s on the phone to him.

MORE: Video: Declan Rice shows why he’s a transfer target for Chelsea with superb play in build-up to West Ham goal

“I know there are lots of jokes going about how he might want to stay away a little bit longer so they keep on winning, but I’m sure he’s had a lot of input. He obviously trusts his coaching staff as well, that they’ll implement what he wants to do for each game.”

As well as West Ham getting a fine result with a 3-0 win away to in-form Leicester City, it was a good end to the transfer window for them as they kept hold of Declan Rice.

The youngster has been one of the team’s most important players for some time now and was superb against Leicester, with Parris clearly delighted the club didn’t lose him.

“It’s vitally important that they’ve kept Declan Rice,” he said. “His performances have warranted an England place and interest from other clubs. Obviously he’s got the captain’s armband against Leicester as well (in the absence of Mark Noble).”

As seen in the tweet below from Angelo Mangiante, Rice emerged as a top target for Chelsea this summer, but with Frank Lampard apparently planning to change his position and play him as a centre-back…

Parris feels Rice is best suited to playing in midfield, however, saying: “From what I’ve seen, I prefer him in midfield doing what he did against Leicester – winning the ball, making interceptions, and he’s got that ability to play the pass, and the know-how to break the lines.

“That shot against the bar shows you he’s quite comfortable getting forward on the ball as well. He’s got lots of attributes and being in midfield gives him a greater chance to be involved in the game.”

Rice will now be involved with the England setup, and Parris feels there are some other underrated players at West Ham who could soon be knocking on Gareth Southgate’s door.

Michail Antonio was among the most impressive performers against Leicester and has been in fine form for a while now, with Parris saying he’s got a chance of a call-up if he carries on playing like this.

“Of course, when you see him playing like he has been, he’s a handful,” Parris said of Antonio. “He’s been playing up front on his own and has that strength and ability to hold the ball up and run into those channels to make it really awkward for defenders.

“I think from his point of view the only thing he can do is keep performing like this, keep scoring, and I think there might be an opportunity for him (for England). Though as we know, there’s a lot of competition there for England at the moment, but all you can do is do it at club level and see where it gets you.”

Similarly, young winger Jarrod Bowen is making a real name for himself in this Hammers side and might also be one to watch for the future.

“He (Bowen) has really made the step up this season,” Parris said. “Obviously he was playing in the Championship with Hull and now he’s done extremely well settling into the Premier League, chipping in with vital goals. If he carries on like this, within a year he might be another knocking on the door for England.”

jarrod bowen west ham
Jarrod Bowen in action for West Ham

Although West Ham kept hold of Rice this summer, there might be some regret that they failed to strengthen defensively on the final day, despite some speculation they could be active.

Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger was linked with West Ham by the Sun, while it seems another Blues centre-back, Fikayo Tomori, was also targeted on the final day, according to talkSPORT.

Parris thinks WHUFC might just be alright in the defensive department, but that those two could be worth looking at again depending on the situation in January.

“You look at the strength of the squad … Issa Diop’s been out with COVID-19 but you’d think he’ll come back in,” Parris said. “The main thing is to avoid injuries I suppose. If we can do that we’ll possibly be okay at the back. Thankfully we only have to wait a couple of months for the next transfer window if things don’t go according to plan.

“I think Rudiger and Tomori would be the right targets, they can add quality to the squad.”

More Stories Antonio Rudiger David Moyes Declan Rice Fikayo Tomori George Parris Issa Diop Jarrod Bowen Michail Antonio