Declan Rice was a shocking omission from West Ham’s squad to face Liverpool on Saturday, live on talkSPORT.
The Hammers come into the clash against their Premier League title opponents in indifferent form having won just one of their last four outings.
And they were hit by the backhand of their best player who was unavailable for the game.
There was immediate speculation that Rice’s omission could have been linked to a recent interview he gave where he said he had an “urgent” desire to play Champions League football.
When asked how desperate he was to play in the Champions League, Rice said: “It’s as urgent as it gets.
“I feel like it’s not just for me, it’s also for every young player.
“We’re really close to West Ham by the minute, and last season it was grueling to lose but we’re pushing. Listen, we’ll continue. The Champions League is one of my big goals and I hope one day I can play there and do well.
“I feel like one of the best established players in the world. I’m only 23 so I’m still young – that’s what I mean in that sense – but in terms playing ability and how I played consistently.
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However, it has since been revealed that he will not play a role against Liverpool due to an illness unrelated to COVID.
Listen to the full Liverpool v West Ham commentary live on talkSPORT, kick-off 5.30pm