Declan Rice yet to decide over his international future
Choosing between Ireland and England will be ‘one of the hardest decisions of my career’
Declan Rice has said he wants more time before deciding whether to represent Ireland or England. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty
Declan Rice has said choosing between the Republic of Ireland and England is “one of the hardest decisions I will have to make in my career.”
Speaking to The Times (UK) the West Ham United midfielder has confirmed he is yet to decide on his international future, despite recent reports claiming he had committed to Gareth Southgate’s England.
19-year-old Rice has met with both Southgate and Ireland boss Martin O’Neill, but has asked for more time before making his mind up.
He said: “Without a doubt, it is not an easy decision. It is one of the hardest I will have to make in my career.
“Martin [O’NEILL]was excellent when he came to my house and Gareth was excellent and they both understand the position I am in. I said I just need some time.
“I need to make the right decision, what is best for me and my family. Being 19, I never thought I would be in a position to make such a hard decision.”
Earlier this week O’Neill said the idea he should have capped Rice in a competitive fixture in order to tie him to the Republic of Ireland was “kind of crazy.”
Rice - now a fixture in the West Ham side after making his breakthrough under David Moyes last season - has played for Ireland in three friendly fixtures but not in a competitive match.
However O’Neill has dismissed the argument he should have safeguarded against any future approaches from England, by selecting Rice for the World Cup qualifier against Moldova at the Aviva Stadium last October.
He said: “It had not entered my head that I should be thinking of capping someone for something further down the line.
“My job is to try to win some football matches and be competitive. The players coming through will eventually, hopefully, pick themselves. So [to play him then against] Moldova, before we played Wales, where we were desperate to win the game? It is kind of crazy.
“You have to merit getting into the side for a start. I have no qualms on that whatsoever. I would end up capping 15-year-olds in competitive football just so they will play for Ireland for the next 15 years.”