The 22-year-old was unable to play any part on Sunday as the Hammers saw off a struggling Wolves side 3-2 at Molineux after being ruled out for several weeks with a knee injury.
The midfielder has formed a formidable partnership with Tomas Soucek in the centre of the park for West Ham this season, and with the ageing Mark Noble the only natural replacement for Rice, Delaney is hoping Moyes gets creative as the capital club look to cope with his absence in the coming weeks.
He said: “Everyone was very nervous when we saw that Rice was injured. I was one of those hoping that we would play [Pablo] Fornals in the middle and maybe [Said] Benrahma on the wing. I feel that Fornals has got what it takes to fill that position of centre-midfield when Rice is out because we know that he runs. It would probably mean playing Soucek a bit deeper, maybe.
“When he plays Noble [against Wolves], most people on social media, on my WhatsApp group, everyone talking about [it] was very, very nervous because there are some who say it’s a little bit, at times, like playing with 10 men, because Mark Noble – as much as we love him, as much as he’s been fantastic over the years, and as much as he always goes in with the right attitude – he is slow, and the game sometimes seems to pass him by.”
TIF Thoughts on Fornals…
Finishing in a European qualification place is within sight now for the Hammers, and Moyes may not want to risk playing a naturally attacking player in a holding role, especially when he has the experience of Noble to call upon.
However, Noble has arguably struggled to be at his best this season, as his lowly 6.13 WhoScored rating shows, so perhaps the West Ham boss will be tempted to field the £16.2m-rated Fornals in a less familiar role; we’ll have to wait and see.