Martin O'Neill insists Declan Rice's family want him to declare for Ireland over England
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Martin O'Neill insists Declan Rice's family want him to declare for Ireland over England

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND manager Martin O'Neill has revealed that defender Declan Rice's family would rather he play for Ireland over England.

A report from Sky Sports earlier this week suggested that Rice had made the decision to declare for England, but the news turned out to be incorrect.

Speaking to media after the report was broadcast on the popular sports channel, O’Neill said he was “surprised” by the news.

“You know where his father stands on this,” he said.

“And I also think the rest of the family, the brothers.

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“I think there might have been an initial feeling that they might have wanted to go to England at the time because they’re born there and so is his dad. But I think those things have changed around.

“He just needs a wee bit more time. I’m hopeful for the conversations that have taken place, and I know where his family would like him to be. I think the dad might be articulating some of the things that Declan is feeling.”

The West Ham teenager is taking more time to consider his international future

It’s unlikely he will feature in Ireland’s upcoming fixtures against Denmark and Wales.

O'Neill conceded that a contract impasse at West Ham and a change of agent might be a factor in the issue.

Meanwhile, Brighton boss Chris Hughton said he could “sympathise with the situation”.

The former Republic of Ireland international added: "What can happen is that close people around you, your family, the club, can try and guide him but everybody has different situations," said Hughton.

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"It's only him who can make those decisions and I'm sure that whatever he does will be the right decision for him."

Hughton won 53 caps for Ireland and was born to a Ghanaian father and Irish mother.