Declan Rice left out of Republic of Ireland squad as West Ham star 'deliberates' England switch
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Declan Rice left out of Republic of Ireland squad as West Ham star 'deliberates' England switch

REPUBLIC of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has confirmed that West Ham's Declan Rice is considering an option to represent England.

London-born Rice, 19, has made three senior appearances for the Boys in Green since his debut against Turkey in March but is yet to play in a competitive international.

The versatile youngster therefore remains able to switch allegiance to the nation of his birth, if he so chooses.

Speaking after naming his squad for the opening Uefa Nations League game against Wales on September 6, O'Neill revealed that Rice had been approached by England over a potential switch to the Three Lions.

"England have spoken to him. He is taking time to make his mind up ... he is still deliberating," said the Republic boss.

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"He has done brilliantly for us. I'm giving him a little bit of time."

'We have done everything'

Having been left out of O'Neill's squad for the competitive fixture in Cardiff, Rice will also be unable to play in the friendly against Poland five days later.

"I wouldn't be exaggerating to say Declan has loved it with us," continued O'Neill.

"After the Turkey game his father was there and it was a joyous moment for them. We have done everything we can. He has been welcomed by the squad, the fans.

"He is taking time and I am respecting that."

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If Rice does opt to declare for England, his career could follow a similar path to Aston Villa's Jack Grealish – who declared for the county of his birth in 2016 after previously playing for Ireland at youth level.

Since then, Grealish has failed to get anywhere near the England set-up despite being touted as a £40 million target for Tottenham this summer.

"Again, I respect his [Rice's] choice and it is eventually the player's choice – it was the same with Jack Grealish eventually," O'Neill added.

"We've given him caps at senior level, albeit friendly games, he's taken that chance and been terrific. All of those things bring him into the England equation as well.

"The England manager has obviously seen the games he's played for us and thought, 'Oh hold on' and if I was him [Gareth Southgate] and any young players were on the horizon, I'd want to make sure I'd spoken with them before they make a choice."

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