Belfast Telegraph

Declan Rice hasn't been made promises, says Gareth Southgate

 

National identity: Declan Rice has three Republic of Ireland caps
National identity: Declan Rice has three Republic of Ireland caps

By Mark Mann-Bryans

Gareth Southgate insists Declan Rice's club form warranted his first England call-up - but has made no guarantees to the West Ham midfielder after he switched international allegiances.

The Three Lions kick off Group A against the Czech Republic at Wembley next Friday before heading to Podgorica to take on Montenegro in their second match of this block the following Monday.

Rice appeared for the Republic of Ireland's youth teams and won three senior caps for the nation, but Fifa last week ratified his switch to England as those three appearances for the Republic came in friendlies.

Southgate has been a long-term admirer of the 20-year-old, who on Tuesday was named the Republic's Young Player of the Year, ironically, and is looking forward to welcoming him into the fold.

"His form warrants it," the England boss said.

"We've tracked him for quite a while. I think they are really big decisions when you are asking a player to transfers associations.

"You have to be very clear that you feel they have a future with you. That said, there were never any guarantees made to him. Because I think that was also important.

"You've got to be playing well to get in the squad. But his form has been excellent, we like what we've seen in terms of his personality, his character, leadership qualities.

"There aren't many players of his age playing as well as he is in the Premier League. We've actually got a few good young players playing well in the Premier League.

"So, in the end, you can talk about talent a lot."

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