Tuesday 16 July 2019

Chris Hughton and John Aldridge give their views on the Declan Rice debate

West Ham teenager Declan Rice continues to weigh up his international options. (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
West Ham teenager Declan Rice continues to weigh up his international options. (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

Former Ireland defender Chris Hughton has offered his support to West Ham teenager Declan Rice, as he closes in on a decision over his international future.

Rice was left out of the Ireland squad named by manager Martin O'Neill on Thursday after he asked for more time to consider his options after approaches from England to switch his allegiances.

Sky Sports reported on Thursday that Rice was close to declaring for England, with Hughton - who qualified for Ireland via his mother - suggesting it is a tough decision for the 19-year-old at this formative stage of his career.

"I would always sympathise with the situation," said Brighton manager Hughton. "There isn't anybody really that can make that decision for him.

"What can happen is that close people around you, your family, the club, can try and guide him but everybody has different situations.

"It's only him who can make those decisions and I'm sure that whatever he does will be the right decision for him."

O'Neill believes that Rice has yet to make a final call over his international future, with English-born former Liverpool striker John Aldridge suggesting his decision to accept an offer to play for Ireland was a decision he didn't need any time to consider when it came his way.

"Jack Charlton came to me at Oxford and aid he wanted me in his Ireland team and that was enough for me. I snapped his hands off at that offer," reflected Aldridge, who played for Ireland in two World Cup finals and the Euro 88 finals.

"Not for one second did I think about waiting around to see if England would come calling for m because I loved playing for Ireland and loved nothing better than taking on England and beating them at Euro 88.

"It was the biggest honour I my life every time I pulled on that green shirt and I would not swap the memories I had from my time with Ireland for anything in the world.

"They were different times and it was great to be an Ireland player when I was playing because you could work your socks off on the field and then have a few beers with the fans afterwards and maybe the fun element of the game has gone now.

"I hope Rice sticks with Ireland, but when you turn down a call-up and wait this long to make a decision, it looks like he may be heading to England and that would be a shame."

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