Tuesday 18 June 2019

'I will make a decision soon' - Declan Rice on international future following talks with Ireland and England

Declan Rice has yet to decide where his international future lies
Declan Rice has yet to decide where his international future lies
Ger Keville

Ger Keville

Declan Rice has said he will make a decision on his international future soon as the tug-of-war between Ireland and England continues.

The talented midfielder, who recently signed a new long-term deal with West Ham, has made himself unavailable to Ireland since the end of last summer as he weighs up his international future following an approach from England manager Gareth Southgate.

Rice, who was born in England and qualifies to play for Ireland through his grandparents, met with new Ireland boss Mick McCarthy and coach Robbie Keane just before Christmas but insists he has yet to make a final decision.

"Myself, my dad and my brother have talked with Ireland coach Mick McCarthy and I've also spoken to Gareth Southgate. They've both said that whenever I'm ready, it's up to me to make a decision," Rice told The Evening Standard.

"There was so much going on earlier in the season but now most of that has been sorted, so I will make a decision soon.

"As for now, I want to play at the top level throughout my career. I want to win trophies, even the Champions League. You have to be ambitious. If not, what's the point?"

Speaking to TalkSport last week, McCarthy reaffirmed his belief that he can build a team around Rice should he choose to represent the country he represented at underage level and in three senior friendlies.

"There's a lot going on for the young man," said McCarthy.

"We say, 'oh they should be able to makes their minds up', but he's young fella and he's only just got into the West Ham team.

"I remember saying when I was doing some stuff with Ireland, 'look, let him get into the West Ham team, let him settle, let him be a first team player and then he'll make his mind up'.

"I'm still of the same opinion.

"If he wants to play for me I'll be delighted, and I'll be picking him, but I've left it with him. I can't do anymore.

"It's not my job to decide whether he plays for the Republic of Ireland.

"There was a real issue with his contract [at West Ham] and they got that sorted out now, so I guess he's got his head clear on that and he can make his mind up.

"My job is to pick him if he decides to play for us, and I hope he does because he's an excellent player.

"He's a player I can build a team around."

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