Declan Rice impressed again last night. Andrew Matthews
big things ahead

Declan Rice is better than John Stones at 19, says Liverpool legend Ian Rush

‘He’d walk into the Ireland team. Maybe he wouldn’t walk into the England team.’

FORMER LIVERPOOL STRIKER Ian Rush has tipped Declan Rice for the top, saying that the West Ham teenager is better than John Stones was at that age.

Rice, who’s currently deciding on whether his international future lies with Ireland or England, produced another brilliant performance for his club last night as they beat Southampton 2-1.

And Rush was full of praise for the 19-year-old defender/midfielder afterwards, comparing him to Manchester City star Stones who made a £50m move to the Etihad in 2016 after breaking through with Everton team in his teens.

“He reminds me of John Stones, when he was Everton,” Rush said on beIN Sports.

“I think Rice is a better player, at that age. Whether [he plays for] England or Ireland, it’s up to him to decide. He’s come on a lot. For me, he’s a centre-back. He can play the holding midfield role as well. To be at his best, for me he’s a ball-playing centre-half.”

Last week, Mick McCarthy said that he and his assistant Robbie Keane had a positive meeting the player and his father to discuss his international future, and he’s expected to make his decision by March.

“With Mick McCarthy, they’re looking to progress,” Rush added of Ireland and their potential capture of the London-born ace.

“Ireland, what they’ve achieved the last two years, it’s not been great. He’d walk into the Ireland team. Maybe he wouldn’t walk into the England team.”

Meanwhile with the Hammers, his contract is due to expire in the summer. Manager Manuel Pellegrini also shared his thoughts after last night’s Premier League clash.

“I see Declan work every day and it is difficult for me to be surprised with him now. He always wants to learn more, he didn’t have any problems, he was just focusing on playing.

“Then the media started about his contract and his money but he never had any problem in that sense, he was always working hard and he is just 19 years old. He has got such a bright future ahead of him.”

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Andy Dunne look back on a memorable year for Irish rugby.

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