Mark Noble dished out the highest praise possible when talking about West Ham United teammate Declan Rice to the Daily Star.
Noble is set to fill in for his talented teammate while Rice recovers from a knee injury sustained on international duty.
It’s a massive setback for West Ham and England, who have both centred their plans around the 22-year-old.
It’s especially hurtful for the Hammers, who are well on their way to achieving Champions League football next season.
David Moyes was dealt another hammer blow when Michail Antonio pulled up with a problem in Monday’s 3-2 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
West Ham captain Noble noted both players would be greatly missed but highlighted Rice’s absence as the most damaging.
Noble rewards Rice with top prize
Noble said: “Mikey (Antonio) was a big loss for us after we lost Dec (Rice) in the week, which was obviously a massive kick in the teeth for us.
“Not only is he one of the best players in the country at the minute in his position, but probably in world football.
“I think he’s that good and we need to get him back as quickly as possible.”
It was certainly a bold claim from the seasoned professional. Noble has faced a fair share of defensive midfielders in his time.
One of those is N’Golo Kante, who he will have battled on numerous occasions when playing Leicester City or Chelsea.
Other Premier League names such as Fabinho (Liverpool), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester), Rodri (Manchester City), and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham Hotspur) could all argue they are the best in Rice’s position.
Across the continent, there’s also Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona) and Real Madrid’s Casemiro.
Rice is in fine company. But his pedigree will rise yet higher if West Ham qualify for the Champions League next season.
Hopefully Rice will be fit for the European Championships in the summer. After standing out during the recent World Cup qualifiers, England fans will also pray for the midfielder to make a full recovery.
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