Declan Rice has heaped praise on the performance of Ryan Fredericks against Everton on Sunday as West Ham came through a stern examination 2-1 at the London Stadium.
Fredericks, 29, has seen his West Ham career buffeted by persistent injury troubles, but he was afforded a rare start at the weekend as Ben Johnson sustained a knock while on international duty with England’s U21s, while Vladimir Coufal has only just returned from a hernia operation and made the bench.
With the latter deemed not fit enough to start, having missed the previous five Premier League games, Fredericks was given the nod, and he produced a string of excellent challenges to keep Everton at bay for large swathes of the contest.
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One particular challenge proved potentially match-deciding in the first half. Having initially lost the run of Richarlison, who cut in from the flank and found himself through one-v-one on Lukasz Fabianski, Fredericks showed tremendous pace to sprint back and block the Brazilian before he could tap into an empty net.
On the whole, Fredericks done his reputation no harm at all, and with potential question marks still over Coufal, with David Moyes recently stating that he himself is “still not totally convinced he’s 100 per cent [fit]”, while Johnson has only just returned to training this week, he may be needed for Thursday.
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The Hammers face the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie against Lyon later this week at the London Stadium, and despite the uncertainties over their usual right-backs, Johnson and Coufal, fans may feel comfortable with Fredericks taking the No. 2 mantle, particularly after Rice lavished praise on the defender.
Following the 2-1 Premier League win over Everton, West Ham’s official Twitter account posted a praise-worthy caption alongside an image of Fredericks, to which Rice replied with the ‘smiling face with heart-eyes emoji’. The original caption from the club read: “Some big challenges from this man yesterday 👏.”
— Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) April 4, 2022
Fans of West Ham certainly know the ‘bromance’ between Rice and Fredericks after the former took part in a special fan Q&A on West Ham’s TikTok account, and revealed the blossoming friendship between the pair in May of last year.
In response to the question ‘who is your best friend at West Ham?’, Rice said, “My best friend at West Ham is definitely Ryan Fredericks. We’ve been together for three years now, since the first day he walked through the door we got on really well and we’ve grown close ever since.”
Football fans outside of West Ham are perhaps more familiar with the friendship of Rice and Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount, with the duo growing up together at the Stamford Bridge academy and regularly flaunting their close relationship on social media.
But, it appears the England international may have a bit of competition for the status of Rice’s true “best friend” from someone a bit closer to home.