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‘England have got into his head’ – Shay Given hits out at Southgate over Rice pursuit

The former Ireland goalkeeper believes that the teenager should have “nailed his colours to the mast” after turning out for the country previously.

Rice celebrates during June's friendly with the USA.
Rice celebrates during June's friendly with the USA.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

FORMER IRELAND INTERNATIONAL goalkeeper Shay Given has criticised Gareth Southgate and the England managerial staff for getting into the head of teenage defender Declan Rice.

Capped three times for Ireland, the 19-year-old West Ham player is not yet tied to the country after only featuring in friendlies.

Rice, who was born in Surrey but qualifies for Ireland due to his grandparents, has impressed for the Hammers this term after moving into a defensive midfield role.

Martin O’Neill had hoped that he would feature in the Nations League match against Wales earlier this season, but he pulled out of the squad.

Reports on Tuesday have said that the player is potentially leaning towards picking England over Ireland, suggesting that Rice is keen to pursue an international career under Southgate.

Given, meanwhile, is angry with the role he thinks the England staff played in the decision.

“He’s played three games for Ireland but I think Gareth Southgate or someone from England has got into his head,” he said speaking to TalkSport.

Preston North End v West Ham United - Pre Season Friendly - Deepdale The 19-year-old has impressed for West Ham this season. Source: Dave Thompson

“I think once you pull on the senior jersey for your country that should be it – your colours nailed to the mast and you should play.

“But the rules are not tied down to that.

“It’s a big decision, he’s a young man and I’m sure a lot of people would be in his ear about playing for England.

“But we would love him to play for Ireland, of course we would.”

When it was suggested that assistant boss Roy Keane might have scared the youngster away, Given replied: “When Roy says something it’s big news and the media jump all over it, that’s the problem, but no, I don’t think Declan Rice is scared of anybody.”

Rice has played three times for West Ham in the Premier League this season, including their recent victory over Everton and a scoreless draw against Chelsea on Sunday.

With Ireland set to play Denmark and Wales in the Nations League in October, the picture of his international future is likely to become clearer over the coming weeks.

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