By CandH’s top blogger Allen Cummings


It’ll be ‘hearts in our mouths’ time again for West Ham supporters when England take the field against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday in their opening game of the delayed European Championship.

General opinion seems to be that Declan Rice will start in midfield – which is great news for Deccers! I’m sure we’re all be delighted for him – it’s every footballer’s dream to play for their country.

But it’s a combination of joy for Rice mixed with trepidation for the well being of a player who has matured into our inspirational talisman.

The player who has led David Moyes’ revitalised team by example to what has been our best ever season in the Premier League – and the man we all hope will take us onwards and upwards to a new and exciting future for our club.

Ideally Declan would have been sat back looking to play online casino with his feet up now, enjoying a well earned rest after the exertions of the last nine months’ action.

Re-charging batteries for the new club test ahead is not to be. There will be at least three Euro qualifying games to negotiate over the next 10 days with Declan expected to play a full part – and more games to follow if England progress in the tournament.

No-one needs reminding of how Rice came back injured after his last excursion with the England team at the end of March.

A knee injury that kept him out of six vital Premier League games for the Hammers. We certainly missed his presence in the side  – dropping vital points against Newcastle, Chelsea and Everton – games where if Declan had been available the chances are we would have at least picked up some points instead of surrendering all nine.

Given we finished the campaign just three points short of that coveted Champions League spot – there’s a very real argument that Rice’s injury cost us dearly.

I have to admit my own personal enthusiasm for international football has drained somewhat over recent years for a variety of reasons.

I certainly don’t get worked up the way I used to – mainly because there has been very little to get worked up about. I’ll watch the England games no doubt – and want the team to do well – but my mind will be concentrated mostly on Declan Rice, with my fingers and toes firmly crossed that he stays fit and well throughout the tournament.

Declan openly admitted recently: “I am a bit of a worrier,” referring to the time he injured his knee.

He was convinced he would be out weeks, missing the end of the season and the Euros. Thankfully that wasn’t the case. Now it’s our turn to worry, hoping he’ll come through unscathed and be 100% ready when August comes around to play a full part for us in the massive season ahead!