West Ham United manager David Moyes has hinted at which country young defender Declan Rice will choose to represent Internationally as the centre-back is illegible to play for both Republic of Ireland and England.
Rice recently made his senior International debut for Martin O’Neill’s Ireland in a friendly defeat to Turkey and has turned out for both nations at youth level, being born in London but qualifying through his ancestry to appear in green and white.
The charge was watched by both O’Neill and Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate as his Hammers team claimed a crucial victory over Southampton in the league, and here is what Moyes had to say about the decision on his International allegiance in his post-match press conference at London Stadium, which MooreThanJustAClub were fortunate enough to be in.
“Well, he’s still out because it was only a friendly isn’t it that he can still play so it’s my understanding is he’s going to Ireland I’ve not heard anything else at the moment.”
Should the captain of West Ham’s U23s choose to play in the Irish’s next competitive match at the beginning of this year’s first ever UEFA Nations League, he will have no choice but to play Internationally for them.
However, should he impress Southgate enough to warrant a Three Lions call-up to this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia, he will have to choose his country of birth.
While it seems like Rice will stick with Ireland, the lure of a World Cup may just be tempting for any youngster trying to make their way in the game, he would be one of the youngest stars at the tournament at 19.
These discussions are taking place as a result of the versatile starlet’s impressive domestic form with the East Londoners this season, having featured as a regular fixture since his Premier League debut on the final day of the 2016/2017 campaign.
Rice has made 24 first-team appearances this season under both Slaven Bilic and Moyes and at times, has been the standout performer in what has been a landmark term for him, one of them coming away at Tottenham Hotspur in the PL when he picked up the Man of the Match award.
Having made his senior Ireland bow and collected the Football Association Ireland Under-19 Player of the Year trophy over the International break, the charge started at right centre-back at London Stadium on Saturday.
Featuring in the back five as one of two make-shift centre-half’s, he excelled and was once again a Man of the Match candidate, contributing heavily to his team’s first victory and clean sheet in close to two months.
Along with pundits and teammates, Moyes was quick to heap praise on the Academy of Football graduate and bright prospect for his performance, going on to announce:
“I thought he played really well today I thought he gave us a little bit of ability he’s a young centre-half.
“I’ve said to people who hear me talking a lot I said I think centre-half is probably the hardest position to play in the Premier League especially when you’re a young player now because of the quality of the centre-forwards and the different variations of teams with their play now.”
The ex-defender himself later added, “so think he’s done a really good job he’s had bits of football all season if we hadn’t had an injury to Ginger (James Collins) today he would have been playing as a midfield player.
“So, we’ve not necessarily said that that’s what he is yet, we think that he’s capable of playing in midfield or at the back and I thought he done a great job today.”
Following a special couple of days for the 19-year-old, rumours of him being offered a new and improved contract have been doing the rounds this week, along with those linking him to some of Europe’s biggest clubs in the summer transfer window.
While Moyes will be keen to make sure of Rice’s future at West Ham United beyond this season, both player and manager will need to focus on the task at hand of keeping the Hammers afloat in the Premier League, starting with next Sunday afternoon’s trip to face the youngster’s former club in Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.