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England Target One Of Ireland's Most Promising Youngsters

England Target One Of Ireland's Most Promising Youngsters
By Gavin Cooney
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We're not quite at the 'monitoring number of tweeted shamrock emojis' with this just yet, but England manager Gareth Southgate has admitted that one of Ireland's most promising talents has been targeted by the FA.

West Ham's centre-back Declan Rice has played for the Republic of Ireland right up to under-21 level, qualifying for Ireland through the grandparent rule. He has yet to be capped by Martin O'Neill at senior level but it's not the case that O'Neill has been ignorant of Rice: the youngster was included in the post-season training camp in Fota at the end of last season. Rice will be able to switch allegiances until he has been capped at senior level in a competitive game.

Speaking to members of the Irish media, England manager Gareth Southgate has admitted that the FA's Technical Director, Dan Ashworth has targeted a number of young players with dual nationality, with Rice among them.

Well he is somebody whom we know with our technical department.

We are across every young player and, of course, there are plenty of young players with dual nationality.

We are always looking, we are aware of him, we are aware of his situation.

It’s more one for Dan Ashworth as technical director than for me as senior manager.


Martin O'Neill has hinted that Rice will be called up to the senior squad for the friendly with Turkey in March, although cannot be officially tied-down until Ireland's next competitive game, which is away to Wales in the UEFA Nations League.

It's important to note at this stage that there is nothing to suggest that Rice has wavered in his ambition to declare for Ireland, as he put on record with West Ham's website last year. He is a hugely promising talent, with Keith Andrews recently telling Balls of the importance of getting him capped.

Get him capped, absolutely. I’ve been very, very impressed with him for our U21s and for West Ham as a left-sided centre-half and marauding forward as a midfielder.

It’s an absolute pleasure to watch him play, it’s effortless the way he plays. His game understanding, composure… he’s a very, very bright talent. I know people at West Ham and in terms of his temperament, his character and his willingness to learn and improve, everybody can not praise him highly enough.

The next trip is Turkey but Noel King might have a bit to say about that as they would be taking him away from the U21s. We need to give him a bit of love now and get him involved.

Hopefully the only thing Rice has in common with Jack Grealish is their being clad in claret and blue.


[Irish Sun]

See Also: Shane Duffy Stood Firm With Brighton Over Tribute To Martin McGuinness

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