Belfast Telegraph

Ashworth is thrilled to see Rice pick England

Big change: Declan Rice
Big change: Declan Rice

By Ed Elliot

Dan Ashworth is "delighted" Declan Rice has pledged his international future to England following his attempts to influence the 20-year-old's decision.

West Ham midfielder Rice, who has won three caps for the Republic of Ireland, announced he had switched allegiances on Wednesday.

Former Football Association technical director Ashworth confirmed he held talks with the player before leaving his role to take up the same position at Premier League club Brighton.

"You've got a young man who has clearly given a great deal of thought to where his international career is going to go. It's been a really difficult decision for Declan and his family," said Ashworth, who left the FA this week to start work with the Seagulls.

"I know he's spent months deliberating on it, no secret from the fact that he met England and the Republic to discuss his future.

"Obviously he's liked what we've had to say and wants to push his allegiance towards England and the team. He's decided he wants to play for England and he's English. As an Englishman, I'm delighted about that."

London-born Rice represented the Republic from Under-16 level after qualifying through his grandparents, with all three of his senior appearances coming in friendlies.

While he was part of the conversation, Ashworth believes England manager Gareth Southgate was a more significant influence.

"Ultimately, the player wants to hear from the manager," he added.

"Managers are the ones that will ultimately decide whether the player plays or not so that's the main conversation.

"So Gareth would have been the most important cog in that wheel."

Belfast Telegraph


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