Pellegrini: Rice a future captain

Declan Rice can be considered as a possible captain once he has gained more experienced, says West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini.

Rice's rise has been a highlight of West Ham's season and he scored the opening goal with an early header in Saturday's 2-0 Premier League win at home to Newcastle United.

West Ham moved up to ninth in the table thanks to their victory, with skipper Mark Noble wrapping up the points from the penalty spot.

But Pellegrini feels Rice, who has declared his intention to represent England at international level instead of the Republic of Ireland, can wear the armband in the future.

"Declan is a young player, he must learn a lot," Pellegrini said of the 20-year-old, who was crowned Young Player of the Year at this week's London Football Awards.

"To be a captain you need many games behind you, have more age. So in the future, maybe he will do it, but in this moment he must keep in this way."

Another major positive for the Hammers was the return to the starting line-up of Manuel Lanzini.

"If you tell me that Lanzini was injured for eight months, you would not believe it," Pellegrini added of the Argentina playmaker. "He is a player that has returned, he is not afraid of playing.

"When you have such a bad injury maybe you are not so comfortable in the first games, you are worried, you don't trust too much in yourself to tackle or make good passes.

"But Manu changed our game, he is a player giving good assistance to the forwards, always receiving the ball, always asking for the ball and I don't remember him losing one pass tonight."

Newcastle beat Burnley 2-0 at home on Tuesday to ease enduring relegation fears but Rafael Benitez's side are far from assured of their place in the top flight.

He said: "We started the game with a lack of concentration and then we conceded goals from set-pieces that we could easily avoid.

"I am disappointed and the only thing I hope is that we learn for the future and avoid making the same mistakes in the last nine games.

"I have said before that we are still in the relegation battle so we have to be sure we approach every game like a final and not thinking it will be an easy game."

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