'I've talked with Mick McCarthy and Gareth Southgate... I will make a decision soon'

Declan Rice’s international future remains unresolved.

Rice playing for Ireland against USA in June.
Rice playing for Ireland against USA in June.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

THE SAGA SURROUNDING Declan Rice’s future as an international footballer is approaching a conclusion.

The West Ham United youngster says a decision is imminent on whether he will commit to the Republic of Ireland or England.

Rice, who qualifies to represent the Boys in Green via his grandparents from Cork, spoke to manager Mick McCarthy last month about the prospect of continuing with Ireland.

The 19-year-old played in three friendly fixtures for Ireland in 2018. However, he remains free to switch his allegiance until he has played in a competitive senior game.

England manager Gareth Southgate has also expressed his interest in the London-born player, who’s comfortable as a holding midfielder or in the centre of defence.

After establishing himself in the West Ham team and agreeing a new contract with the Premier League club recently, Rice says he’s now ready to address his international future. 

“Myself, my dad and my brother have talked with Ireland coach Mick McCarthy and I’ve also spoken to Gareth Southgate. They’ve both said that whenever I’m ready, it’s up to me to make a decision,” he told The Evening Standard.

“There was so much going on earlier in the season but now most of that has been sorted, so I will make a decision soon. 

“As for now, I want to play at the top level throughout my career. I want to win trophies, even the Champions League. You have to be ambitious. If not, what’s the point?”

Rice’s form in West Ham’s midfield has seen him linked with a move to Manchester City, with newspaper reports claiming that the Premier League champions have identified him as a potential long-term successor to 33-year-old Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho.

In an interview last week, Mick McCarthy said he has given Rice a deadline of March — when the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign begins with games against Gibraltar and Georgia — to declare his international intentions.

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Paul Dollery

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