Teenager Declan Rice called up by Ireland just days after Premier League debut for West Ham
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Teenager Declan Rice called up by Ireland just days after Premier League debut for West Ham

REPUBLIC of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill has drafted West Ham United teenager Declan Rice into his squad for the end-of-season internationals.

Rice, who turned 18 in January, made his Premier League debut for West Ham United in their 2-1 win against Burnley as an 89th minute substitute.

The talented youngster has already played for the Republic of Ireland U21s and could be in line for a senior call-up after being invited to a training camp in Cork with Martin O’Neil’s senior squad ahead of friendlies against Mexico and Uruguay and a World Cup Oualifier against Austria.

Rice qualifies for the Republic of Ireland through his grandparents having grown up in London.

“[Academy Director] Terry Westley called me and I was sat at home and just couldn’t believe it when he said Martin O’Neill had called him up to say he wants me to go to the training camp,” Rice said.

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“My heart was pounding and I was thinking ‘Is this true?’. Now I’m focused on that and joining up on Tuesday.

“I’ve just got to work hard in training and try to impress Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane.”

Rice is West Ham’s U23 captain and skippered the squad to promotion to Premier League 2 (Division 1) recently.

Last week, Rice was selected as the club's Young Hammer of the Year at West Ham’s end-of-season awards.

He was also named Ireland's U17 Player of the Year in March.

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He moved from the Chelsea academy to West Ham in 2014 and has amassed 11 caps for Ireland’s schoolboy teams.

The defender, who can also operate further up the pitch as a defensive midfielder, looks set to have a promising career in professional football.