Declan Rice has stressed his commitment to the Republic of Ireland, insisting that “there is no decision to be made” regarding his international future.
Rice has been included in Martin O’Neill’s Ireland squad for the upcoming friendly game against Turkey, which takes place on Friday March 23 in Antalya, but concerns persist that the England-born defender may eventually opt to represent the country of his birth.
O’Neill and Ireland experienced similar uncertainty over Jack Grealish, who ultimately decided to declare for England after playing for Irish Under-19 and Under-21 teams, so comparisons have unsurprisingly been drawn to Rice.
— Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) March 18, 2018
As it happens, an appearance in the friendly against Turkey will not tie the 19-year-old to the Boys in Green – only a senior competitive appearance will – but he has dismissed talk that he is weighing up his options.
“I’m fully focused on playing for Ireland,” Rice, who was recently named Ireland’s U-19 Player of the Year, told reporters. “There’s no decision to be made. If I didn’t want to be playing for Ireland, I wouldn’t be here.”
After being included in the senior panel for Friday’s game the West Ham defender will be eager to make an impression and perhaps get some time on the pitch.
He has made an impact for David Moyes’ Hammers at the centre of defence, playing in 18 Premier League games, but his versatility has seen him deployed in midfield, which is where he normally plays for Noel King’s U-21 team.