Monday 25 March 2019

Declan Rice to be named in England squad less than 24 hours after being crowned as Ireland's Young Player of the Year

Declan Rice has been named the Republic of Ireland’s Young Player of the Year (Paul Harding/PA)
Declan Rice has been named the Republic of Ireland’s Young Player of the Year (Paul Harding/PA)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

The farce surrounding Declan Rice's coronation as the Republic of Ireland's Young Player of the Year will take a fresh twist as he is named by Gareth Southgate in his England squad on Wednesday.

Rice was bizarrely named as the FAI's best young player despite confirming he wishes to switch his international allegiances and declaring he was a 'proud Englishman'.

Now Southgate is set to take instant advantage of Rice's decision by calling up the West Ham player for Euro 2020 qualifiers later this month, with Football Association sources suggesting his name will be in the latest England panel.

FIFA confirmed that Rice's clearance to play for England was ratified quicker than many expected last week, with the in-form 20-year-old now likely to win his first competitive international cap in matches against Czech Republic and Montenegro.

Rice has been in sparkling form for West Ham in recent months and has been hailed by his club manager Manuel Pellegrini as 'England's best midfielder', yet Southgate has been cautious to avoid adding to the publicity surrounding his decision to target a place in his squad.

Ricerrr-Eng.jpg
Declan Rice has chose England

"I think we’re asking him to make really big decisions and that’s why I backed away from his decision," Southgate told talkSPORT. "He knew what we thought of him as a player but it was important that he had the space to make that decision."

Southgate also suggested there was 'a debate to be had' over the rules that allow players to switch from one international team after they have won senior honours with another.

"While the rules are what they are I think that’s going to happen," he added. "Families are moving countries, the world is a lot more fluid in terms of eligibility. The only guide we can take are by the rules and they are as they are.

"Lots of kids in our junior system play for one or two countries at 15 or 16 and they then become attached with a country.

"Some players we've lost at a young age, others have come over to us so it is fluid within youth football.

"There’s a good debate to be had about what the rules are. We're asking players to make big decisions in their life very early. Declan was still 19-years-old when he started to make his decision and that is tough for a player of his age."

Soutgate's decision to name Rice in his England squad adds to the embarrassment surrounding what will prove to be his final award as an Ireland player, with the FAI offering an explanation for his coronation as Ireland's Young Player of the Year.

"The award was voted for by members of the SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland," read their statement. "At the time of the vote, Declan Rice was an Ireland international and qualified for the Young Player category in a year that saw him win three senior caps, all in three International Friendly games.

"Declan Rice has since opted to switch his allegiance to England. The FAI has completed his international transfer via the FIFA protocols and wishes him well in the future."

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