"Declan Rice has a big problem," said West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini on Tuesday night.
The Chilean had just been asked about Rice's international football dilemma following West Ham's win against Wimbledon in the second round of the League Cup. Rice had just played 90 minutes for the first time under the 64-year-old.
Pellegrini suggested that playing for Ireland would be the easier decision - he would almost certainly see more game time, he already has three caps for the Republic - but that if he trusts his ability, he could become an England player.
"But I think that his heart must decide if he feels more Irish or more English," Pellegrini is quoted as saying by The Guardian.
Maybe for him it can be more easy to play for Ireland but if you trust in yourself and you feel that you are an English player…
It is a personal decision. It is very difficult to give advice but I am always speaking with him because he is young and he has a big future. I speak with him about a lot of different issues.
Following his arrival in London earlier in the summer, West Ham co-owner David Gold said that Pellegrini could turn Rice into an England player. Gold has since raised those hopes for Rice to him one day following in the footsteps of Bobby Moore and captaining England.
West Ham would no doubt benefit were Rice to become an England international. A high transfer fee could be demanded. Just look at the rise in Harry Maguire's stock since the World Cup.
Pellegrini believes that if Rice was to choose England over Ireland, he does have the ability to become a regular international.
"He is a player that is completing his development in a physical way. He is a strong player, a good technical player.
"With England he will have big competition but I think he is able to take that challenge – that’s without me giving him a decision.
"He must take the decision himself."
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