Pellegrini: Declan Rice can have a big future with England
West Ham boss: ‘I think that his heart must decide if he feels more Irish or more English’
Declan Rice in action for West Ham in the Carabao Cup second round against AFC Wimbledon. Photograph: Reuters
Manuel Pellegrini believes Declan Rice is good enough to make his mark at international level with England. The 19-year-old West Ham United defender, who can also play as a holding midfielder, has three senior caps for the Republic of Ireland.
However Rice is considering a switch of allegiance to England, having been approached by Gareth Southgate, and he would be eligible to do so as he has yet to play for Ireland in a competitive game. Rice was born in London but he has Irish grandparents on his father’s side.
“Declan has a big problem,” Pellegrini, the West Ham manager, said. “But I think that his heart must decide if he feels more Irish or more English. Maybe for him it can be more easy to play for Ireland but if you trust in yourself and you feel that you are an English player . . .
“It is a personal decision. It is very difficult to give advice but I am always speaking with him because he is young and he has a big future. I speak with him about a lot of different issues.
“He is a player that is completing his development in a physical way. He is a strong player, a good technical player. With England he will have big competition but I think he is able to take that challenge – that’s without me giving him a decision. He must take the decision himself.”
Martin O’Neill, the Ireland manager, confirmed that Rice declined a call up to his squad for the Uefa Nations League game against Wales in Cardiff next Thursday after the player requested time to consider his options. O’Neill suggested that Rice’s agent might be driving the switch to England – one that would boost his earning potential: “I wouldn’t put it past them.”
Southgate names his England squad on Thursday for the Nations League game against Spain on September 8th and the friendly with Switzerland three days later. It would be a surprise if Rice were included. - Guardian service