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West Ham United hero Jack Collison has defended Declan Rice as pressure builds over his international future.

Rice has been made headlines after a revelation from Ireland manager Martin O’Neill.

The Hammers youngster shot to prominence last season.

And he also enjoyed a meteoric rise on the international scene.

Rice marked his Republic of Ireland debut with a man of the match display.

But Republic boss Martin O’Neill revealed he asked to be left out of his latest squad after an approach to play for the country of his birth, England.

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Super Jack backs Dec

“England have spoken to him,” O’Neill told BBC Sport when asked why Rice had been omitted from his squad.

“He is taking time to make his mind up.”

 

The 19-year-old has had to deal with a barrage of criticism since.

It seems everyone from teammates to former internationals, fans, pundits and sections of the media are sticking the knife in.

But speaking on Sky Sports’ The Debate, Hammers hero Jack Collison has leapt to the defence of Rice, a player and person he knows well.

“It’s a huge decision for the young lad, he’s still 19 years old, obviously it’s great for him to make his international debut and seeing him when he came back afterwards he was beaming with pride,” Collison told The Debate.

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‘No outside influences’

“Now you come back and he’s obviously had a phone call, maybe from (Gareth) Southgate or somebody in the England camp and it’s probably thrown a bit of turmoil his way.

“Look it’s a big decision and I just hope at the end of the day it’s not people on the outside getting into him and it’s his decision and what he wants to do because he’s got a great opportunity to go both ways with it.

“He’s a talented lad, he’s a real down to earth lad who is going to work hard and have a good career in football and I just hope he makes the decision that’s right for him.”

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