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Rice a future captain, says Zaba

Filed: Tuesday, 10th April 2018
By: Staff Writer

Pablo Zabaleta has backed fellow defender Declan Rice to be a future West Ham captain.

The 19-year-old defender was roundly praised at the weekend for an excellent performance against former club Chelsea, who he left at the age of 14.

And the Irish international's veteran team mate, who is at the other end of a glittering career believes he has the ability and aptitute to go on and lead the Hammers for many years to come.

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Talking about Sunday afternoon's draw at Chelsea, the former Argentinian international said: "I was very pleased with the performance from the back line.

"We worked really hard throughout the game to stop Chelsea's front three - Hazard, Willima, Moarata - who are really good players. I thought we were defensively solid today.

"Angelo [Ogbonna] and Declan [Rice] were fantastic - Declan is still only 19 but he's improving game after game. He's got that energy to play and I'm very pleased for him.

"I hope I can help him and teach him how to defend as this guy has a great future at the club. I'm sure he'll be a West Ham captain in the future."

And Zabaleta - who is coming to the end to the first of a two-year stay at West Ham - also heaped praise upon Man of the Match Joe Hart, who moved to east London from Manchester along with the full back last summer.

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"I thought his performance was fantastic," added Zabaleta. "He made three or four great saves that helped us to get a point. I'm very pleased for him.

"This squad is big, we've got two players for each position and we want to have that helthy competition between Joe and Adrian. They've done great for the squad.

"I've known Joe Hart for a long time now, he's a great lad and he deserves it. Even when he's been dropped he kept working hard - and that shows why he's a great professional."

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