Former Scotland manager Gordan Strachan has backed Declan Rice’s decision to take his time to choose between playing for England or the Republic of Ireland.
The versatile Hammer has represented the Irish in senior friendlies, but pulled out of the most recent squad to consider whether to don the Three Lions jersey instead.
What did Strachan say?
When asked how he would react as a manager in the same position as Martin O’Neill, the former Scotland boss said: “I would feel the pressure was off me. I wouldn’t have to phone him again; or have someone from the FA phone him.
“I would love that for a boy to say that to me. For him to say, Mr Strachan, I’ve spoken to Mr Southgate as well, and at this moment, I really need to concentrate on my club career.
“That’s what I want to do, get good at that. Because it’s not easy playing games for West Ham, in the Premier League, when you’re that age; with people in your ear all the time.
“Listen, let me get on with the game, at the moment. If I’m still playing in a year, give us a call.”
Strachan shows the criticism has been overblown
It has been easy for the likes of Kilbane and McClean to weigh in on Rice. For many, the question of nationality is a simple one; showing unequivocal patriotism is also a quick and easy way to get the fans onside.
However, it is easy to see why Rice is agonising over his decision. The Republic are always touch and go to qualify for major tournaments. The Three Lions are not perennially successful, but this summer’s World Cup showed the opportunities on offer with England.
Being an England international is more lucrative and most importantly, Rice was born in London. Strachan is someone with more experience of this type of situation than most.
Rather than being indignant, he can fully understand Rice’s stance. His advice on the teenager getting his club form together is also wise. These sensible words should act as an antidote to Rice’s critics.