Thursday 17 October 2019

Gareth Southgate opens up over his role in Declan Rice's decision to switch his allegiances to England

Declan Rice has committed his future to England (Joe Giddens/PA)
Declan Rice has committed his future to England (Joe Giddens/PA)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

England manager Gareth Southgate has insisted he did not apply any pressure to Declan Rice before he made his decision to switch his international allegiances from the Republic of Ireland.

West Ham midfielder Rice confirmed he would end his Ireland career after winning three senior caps last month, with his international clearance already confirmed by FIFA as Southgate prepares to name his latest England squad next week.

Rice is expected to be rewarded for his fine form with West Ham by earning a first England call-up, with Southgate admitting he took a backseat in the decision made the 20-year-old.

"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."

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