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West Ham star Declan Rice could make England debut against Holland in Nations League semi-final

West Ham United star Declan Rice has been making the headlines this week after pledging his international allegiance to England.

Rice opened a can of worms when he chose England over the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old midfielder had won three senior Republic of Ireland caps in friendlies having played for his grandparents’ country since under-16 level.

And his decision has received a mixed response from pundits and fans alike.

Rice has had to submit a formal request to FIFA to officially switch across.

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Southgate keen on March call-up for Rice

It comes with England boss Gareth Southgate preparing to name his latest squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro next month.

According to Sky Sports Southgate is keen to call Rice up for those games.

But FIFA typically take around six weeks to action allegiance transfers which could block his selection as he would not even be allowed to train with the Three Lions.

Rice has already made 59 appearances for West Ham and has excelled for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Indeed he is fast becoming the club’s most indispensable player.

Southgate has been hugely impressed and watches the star regularly.

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FIFA red tape could mean Holland debut

Indeed many feel he is the missing ingredient in an exciting England team with Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier failing to impress in the defensive midfield roles.

That could mean Rice’s first call-up and debut could come in the country’s most important game since last summer’s World Cup.

England’s next fixture after the March friendlies comes against Ronald Koeman’s Holland in the semi-final of the Nations League in June.

Not that it would faze Rice of course. Nothing does.

If anything he would probably thrive on it.

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‘Best in Europe’ Rice will thrive on pressure

Some cynics have questioned whether Rice will get as many chances to play for England as he would have for Ireland.

But new statistics prove that the Hammers truly have a class act on their hands and now England do too.

Rice has made more tackles (60) and more interceptions (36) than any other midfielder under the age of 21 in Europe’s top five leagues this season.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough he is bossing it in the Premier League too.

The defensive midfielder has also made the third most recoveries in the league this season with 197. That’s just five off Wolves star Ruben Neves (202) and 12 short of Leicester’s Wilfried Ndidi (209).

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