By Sam Stone

5th Jan, 2023 | 9:10am

BBC Sport journalist reacts to 'lucky' Rodrigo tackle on Declan Rice in Leeds United draw v West Ham

BBC Sport journalist Simon Stone believes Declan Rice was “lucky” to avoid a serious injury in the first half of West Ham United’s Premier League fixture against Leeds United.

Rodrigo was penalised for a high foot on the West Ham skipper which left the England international with a cut to the inside of his ear.

Stone has suggested Rice could’ve been in “trouble” had the Leeds United striker’s boot made contact just a few centimetres in the other direction.

“Declan Rice has a cut to the inside of his ear as a result of that challenge from Rodrigo,” said Stone (BBC Sport live blog, 4 January, 19:56).

“The West Ham skipper is lucky. Rodrigo didn’t put any force behind his challenge and there was no intent but a few centimetres the other way and Rice could have been in trouble.”

Innocuous

There was certainly no intent behind Rodrigo’s tackle but the West Ham man was fortunate to only come away with a small cut to his ear. Luckily, Rice is the type of player who won’t make a meal of such incidents and just get on with the game.

It was a decent performance from Leeds United, particularly in the first half with Jesse Marsch’s side growing into the game after the Hammers enjoyed a period of early pressure.

Willy Gnonto and Crysencio Summerville are really starting to form a nice partnership upfront for the Whites and the Italian’s goal was the perfect example of the chemistry the youthful duo have.

Furthermore, the pair will only improve by playing more first-team football in the Premier League. Regardless of what fans think of Marsch and his tenure at Elland Road, the American certainly deserves credit when it comes to how he’s handled Leeds’ hottest prospects.

In other Leeds United news, the Whites have already made an approach to sign a player who could be the next arrival at Elland Road after Max Wober.