Having started both of West Ham United's Premier League matches at the start of the season after being promoted from the U23 side where he was captain, Declan Rice has been turning heads and getting a lot of Irish fans excited in the process.
The Ireland U21 international looks comfortable at the Premier League level despite being just 18 years of age, although the fact that he was born in England provoked some fears that the FA may notice his rapid progress and possibly create another 'will he?/won't he?' situation in terms of declaring for Ireland or 'waiting' for the nation of his birth.
Speaking to West Ham's official club site, Rice expressed his eagerness to go away and play with the Ireland U21s, before making it very clear that he has a spot in Martin O'Neill's senior squad as a target.
It’s nice to get the call-up to go away with the U21s and I can’t wait to meet up with the lads. I trained with the senior squad and I know Martin O’Neill is keeping an eye on my progress, so hopefully I can play well and get myself into his squad.
That is very refreshing, as in the past we have seen many players in a similar position wish to keep their options open when they qualify for more than one nation.
Rice, who is eligible for Ireland through his grandparents, and has trained with the senior Ireland squad in recent times, also showed that he has his feet firmly grounded despite public praise from West Ham's owner David Gold, and manager Slaven Bilic, as he expressed his belief that he has achieved nothing yet.
It’s just my mentality, really, because nothing’s changed since I joined the squad in pre-season. My mentality hasn’t changed and I’m never going to change as a person or anything like that because, in my eyes, I still haven’t made it to where I want to be.
I’ve only played three games and there are a lot of players who have played three games and not had a career, so it’s only the start. I’ve just got to keep improving and showing the manager what I can do and making him play me.
That's what we like to hear, a young man who knows he has a lot of hard work ahead of him, but is excited to get after it.
People like Kevin Kilbane have spoken out in recent times against the idea of players having a number of different options in international football, as he and many others believe you should only play for your country if you truly want to represent the nation of your heritage, so thankfully Rice has put this to bed early by listing a place in the Ireland squad as one of his goals.
West Ham today pulled out of a big money bid for Portuguese midfielder William Carvalho which could be very good news for Rice, who is expected to start again for the Hammers this weekend, for the rest of the season.
You can read Rice's interview in full over on WHUFC.co.uk.