West Ham's Declan Rice gets England call-up
PUBLISHED: 14:16 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:00 14 March 2019
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Hammers midfielder included for Euro qualifiers against Czech Republic and Montenegro
It seened to be a foregone conclusion that West Ham midfield star Declan Rice was going to receive his first England call-up this week, but when it was at last confirmed today it was still a delight to Hammers fans.
The 20-year-old was courted by England coach Gareth Southgate after his stunning form in claret and blue last season and especially this season and after a long deliberation, the London-born player decided that his future lay with England rather than the Republic of Ireland, for whom he made five appearances.
He never played a competitive game for the Irish though and so FIFA were able to ratify his switch of allegiance in time to make this squad.
Rice will be considered for the home game with the Czech Republic and the trip to Montenegro, both of which are Euro 2020 qualifiers.
England boss Southgate praised the West Ham man’s excellence this season in the press conference to announce the squad.
“His form warrants it,” he said. “It has obviously been a well-publicised situation. We’ve tracked him for quite a while.
“There were never any guarantees made to him, but his form has been excellent.”
He continued: “We’ve tracked him for a while. Over 50 per cent of our junior players have dual nationality. Kids are asked to make a decision very young. It becomes a complex situation.”
The youngster has now made 63 appearances for the Hammers and during that time has converted from a centre-back to a defensive midfielder of great maturity and distinction.
He signed a new five-and-a-half year deal at the London Stadium earlier in the season and he is a red-hot favourite to be crowned as the Hammer of the Year at the end of the season.
Rice will get his first chance to play for England against the Czech Republic on Friday, March 22 with a 7.45pm kick-off at Wembley.