Thursday 17 October 2019

West Ham teenager Declan Rice called into Ireland senior squad by Martin O'Neill along with Cork duo

Declan Rice has earned an international call-up
Declan Rice has earned an international call-up

Aidan Fitzmaurice

WEST Ham teenager Declan Rice was today celebrating his call-up to the senior Ireland squad, just days after he made his Premier League debut for the Hammers.

Rice, who has come through the West Ham academy, was sprung from the bench by Slaven Bilic to play in the closing moments of last week's win away to Burnley.

And today Martin O'Neill added the 18-year-old to the senior squad for the three-game series of matches in June, finishing with that qualifier at home to Austria on June 11th.

Rice, who qualifies for Ireland through the parentage rule, got involved with the Ireland set-up in 2015, playing for the U17s, was asked to train with the U21s last year and has since been capped at U19 level.

The defender is said to be committed to playing for Ireland but it's thought that this call-up to the senior panel is a move by the FAI to fend off any attempt by England to "sign" Rice, as happened with Jack Grealish.

“Declan is very good for his age. He has a bright future in him and it’s all down to him. He played a couple of games in the pre-season when we went to the States and we were missing a few players. I can see him being a really good player," Hammers boss Bilic said last week.

Cork goalkeepers Mark McNulty and Alan Smith will also join up with Ireland squad at this week's training camp in Fota Island

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