DECLAN RICE could emulate Frank Lampard and become a midfield legend.
Famed former West Ham youth director Tony Carr guided both stars through the legendary East Londoners football academy.
And former mentor Rice believes vice-captain Irons is on his way to becoming a world-class player if he can add goals to his game like Lamps.
Rice, 23, will play his 28th England cap against Switzerland on Saturday.
And Carr, 71, who has dedicated 43 years of his life to youth development at his beloved Hammers, said: “Frank and Dec have a lot in common.
“Transmission, vision, passion, dedication and fitness. And humility. Both have it in abundance.
“The only thing Declan lacks is that Frank scores 20 goals in a season.
“But to be a true all-round midfielder, Dec has to be at least eight to ten in every campaign.
“He has room to move, but he is moving in the same direction as Frank. The goal is to emulate Frank’s accomplishments and become a true legend.”
Carr has produced West Ham and England’s golden generation including Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Glen Johnson and Jermain Defoe.
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The former Hammers striker, whose playing career was cut short by a severe leg fracture, also signed for Rice from Chelsea in 2013 at the age of 14.
Rice, who made 183 appearances for the Hammers, has been on the rise since Carr left West Ham in 2016.
And he’s the latest of many gems that the Bow coach has placed on the Chadwell Heath conveyor belt.
However, when Rice and Lampard were teenagers, Carr had no idea what they would achieve.
He said: “It’s hard to know what players will achieve at 15 or 16 years old.
“At that age, you never would have guessed that Frank would be Chelsea’s top scorer of all time.
“But when Dec first showed up, he had some standout features.
“He could get through, he didn’t need many touches to see the bigger picture and he had a great attitude.
“Dec has always been at the forefront and eager to learn.
“But Dec and Frank had leadership qualities.
“They were never afraid to take possession of the ball, even if they were losing 2-0 because of the crowd.
“They always wanted the ball and interfere.
“David Moyes saw this in December and gave him the West Ham captaincy when Mark Noble is not playing.”
Rice scored two goals for England and became the Three Lions’ first in central midfield ahead of Leeds ace Calvin Phillips and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson.
And Carr says it can last as long as Rice wants – now he has earned the respect of the older players.
He added: “England don’t have a better midfielder than Declan. Phillips and Henderson are great, but they are no better than Dec.
“He should be one of the first names on Southgate’s list and how long that lasts depends on Declan.
“Management and experienced players respect him, and this is very important. Now about how long he keeps his love for the game.
Lampard scored 211 goals for Chelsea between 2001 and 2014, a goal-per-game ratio of 0.33.
The Everton boss also scored 29 goals in 106 England caps.
Rice’s nine points in 183 games for West Ham in all competitions gives him a 0.05 per game ratio that Carr says must improve to become a world-class player. He said: “He is an outstanding player.
“But to become a world-class player, he needs to score more goals. But he’s on his way.”
– Tony Carr’s Autobiography: A Life in Football at West Ham United published April 7th.