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Former Scotland manager Strachan endorses Rice's stance on playing for Ireland
Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Former Scotland manager Strachan endorses Rice's stance on playing for Ireland

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.

That decision has attracted criticism from the likes of Kevin Kilbane and James McClean. However, Strachan has praised it, speaking on Sky Sports’ The Debate.

LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA – OCTOBER 08: Head coach Gordon Strachan (C) reacts of Scotland during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier match between Slovenia and Scotland at stadium Stozice on October 08, 2017 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

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.”

Dublin , Ireland – 2 June 2018; Declan Rice of Republic of Ireland during the International Friendly match between Republic of Ireland and the United States at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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.