Declan Rice is leaning towards committing his international future to England, The Daily Mail reports.
West Ham ace Rice is currently at the centre of a major media debate about international allegiance.
The 3-cap Republic of Ireland international has only played friendly matches for Martin O’Neill’s side and he turned down the chance to play in the UEFA Nations League.
Playing in a competitive game would have meant he could only play for the Irish. But he wants to keep his options open.
According to this report, the 19-year-old is yet to make any decision but is “leaning towards” choosing England.
Rice for West Ham
Rice has been excellent for West Ham since receiving a recall to the starting line-up at Everton.
Playing as a holding midfielder in a central midfield trio, Rice provides superb protection for the back four with his aerial presence, composure on the ball and his strong tackling ability.
The teenager helped the Hammers to a win against Everton, scooping the man of the match award, and then to a 0-0 draw with Chelsea. He was in contention for man of the match against his former club Chelsea too.
West Ham fans rate their academy product very highly and want him to sign a new contract imminently.
The case for Ireland
Rice has represented the boys in green at every youth level and then three times at senior level.
He is highly regarded by Ireland fans and dubbed as one of their best players.
The youngster could play a starring role in the Republic of Ireland midfield and establish himself as a starter for many years.
He also has more chance of being selected regularly by O’Neill, than he does by Gareth Southgate.
The case for England
Rice may have Irish grandparents but he was born in London, speaks with a southern accent and has lived in England his whole life.
He probably feels both Irish and English, which has brought about this identity crisis of sorts.
With England, he has more chance of competing for silverware than he does with the Republic of Ireland.
He will play at more World Cups and get more international recognition. But that is if Southgate decides to pick him.
It’s a tough decision for such a young man.