Reports: Declan Rice ready to declare for England after meeting Gareth Southgate
Declan Rice has decided to pledge his international future to England according to the Daily Star.
The newspaper ran the exclusive story in Wednesday’s edition and claim that the West Ham player will make an announcement in the coming weeks.
Rice has represented Ireland at underage level and won 3 senior caps. The report claims he met with England manager Gareth Southgate at St George’s Park earlier this month where he was assured that if he did commit to England then he would become a key member of the squad.
The news will come as a bitter blow to manager Martin O'Neill, who even last month was hopeful that Rice would reaffirm his commitment to the Irish cause:
"I’ve spoken to him, I’ve spoke to the family, his father is an absolute gentleman, he’s very keen for him to play for us too but the lad just needs a little bit more time.
"He’s been brilliant for us in senior games. I think the Republic of Ireland have done everything to sell the country to him. He’s been welcomed by the players, by the fans too."
Rice could’ve been in contention to feature in the World Cup qualifier against Moldova last October. He had already made a positive impression at West Ham and played six times in total by that stage. In May 2017, Rice was called up in the provisional squad for the World Cup qualifier against Austria.
He was cut before the squad assembled and ignored for the Moldova fixture. All indications are that it was not at Rice’s behest that he was left out instead O’Neill saw it fit that a promising player that was also eligible to play for England was better suited to duty with the under-21 duty then making a 5 minute cameo in any of the seven competitive games that followed.
"I’m not so sure what else we can do. Obviously the country of his birth have come calling."
O’Neill said. For his part claims he did everything in his power, everything except give Rice a competitive cap which would've spared us this saga.