Monday 25 March 2019

Ireland's Young Player of the Year Declan Rice named in Gareth Southgate's England squad for the first time

Former Ireland international Declan Rice has been named in the England squad for the first time. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Former Ireland international Declan Rice has been named in the England squad for the first time. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Declan Rice has been named in Gareth Southgate's England squad for the first time today - just 24 hours after being named the FAI Young Player of the Year.

The West Ham youngster made three friendly appearances for Ireland in 2018 before opting to switch his international allegiance to England last month. Rice, who was born in London and has Irish grandparents, considers himself "to be of mixed nationality" and last week saw his switch to England ratified by FIFA.

Rice's switch has sparked debate and the Football Association of Ireland put him further in the spotlight by announcing him as its Young Player of the Year less than 24 hours before England's squad announcement for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

A statement from the FAI read: "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 '3' 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.

"This award maintains the integrity of the voting process in conjunction with the Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland and the FAI thanks the jury members for their decisions relating to the awards."

The FAI has confirmed that Rice will not be at the awards ceremony on Sunday, when he will instead be preparing to link up with his new England team-mates for the first time.

Speaking about calling up Rice, Gareth Southgate said:

"His form warrants it. It's obviously been a well-publicised situation. We've tracked him for quite a while.

"They're really big decisions. When you're asking a player to transfer association, you've got to make sure they've got a future with you. We like what we've seen. I think he'll fit very well into the way that we work.

"There aren't many players of his age playing as well as he is the Premier League."

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