Declan Rice is only 19 but has already experienced highs and lows at St James Park.
The midfielder winning the Premier League Cup on Tyneside with the West Ham Under 23s.
However, last season, the then 18 year old had a harsh introduction at Newcastle with the first team, caught in possession and a despairing attempt (see above) not enough to prevent Joselu scoring his first NUFC goal. This goal also set the Magpies on their way to the opening win (3-0) of the season, the start of a three game winning run.
Declan Rice was dragged off at half-time at St James Park and then sat on the bench as Newcastle won 3-2 in East London in December, a result which lifted them out of the relegation zone for Christmas.
However, fair play to West Ham and the 19 year old, as he is already coming up to 50 first team appearances, the Hammers continuing to bring through young players and give them a chance.
Newcastle United and their stadium/fans have made a big impression on the young midfielder and he declares: ‘St James Park is a top stadium and it’s full of passionate fans and you can really hear that roar when you’re walking out. So I’m really excited by the prospect of playing in that atmosphere again on Saturday.’
Declan Rice has made 10 Premier League starts already and has gone from the highs of beating Man Utd 3-1 at home and Everton by the same scoreline away, to he and the team winning only one of the last six PL matches.
Like Newcastle, West Ham have got a month full of fixtures against teams outside the ‘big six’ and the margins are small, Rafa’s players lifting their game for three victories in a row by a single goal.
The 19 year old Rice is likely to be up against Newcastle’s in-form midfield duo Ki and Diame, who have a combined age of 60, let’s hope that experience counts today.
Declan Rice speaking to the official club site:
“Without a doubt, winning the Premier League Cup (with West Ham Under 23s) at St James Park was a great experience and one I’ll never forget, but then starting for the first team, making a mistake that led to a Newcastle goal and being taken off at half-time last season was completely different.
“I think that experience set me up for a good season last year.
“It is all about learning from setbacks and realising the intensity of the Premier League, so I’m looking forward to going back there and hopefully getting the win this time around.
“St James Park is a top stadium and it’s full of passionate fans and you can really hear that roar when you’re walking out.
“So I’m really excited by the prospect of playing in that atmosphere again on Saturday.
“It is a massive week we’ve got coming up.
“We obviously only picked up one point from our last two games against Huddersfield and Man City, so we have got a big game at Newcastle at the weekend.
“Newcastle have won their last three games, but we need three points majorly, so we’re going to go out there and give it everything we have got.”