Rice Called Up to England Shortly after Being Named Ireland’s Best Young Player

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Newly-eligible Declan Rice has been named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the first time, fresh from being crowned Republic of Ireland’s best young player.

Having this season flourished for West Ham, the 20-year-old decided after much deliberation to switch allegiance from the country he represented at both youth and senior levels.

Update: In the afternoon, England confirmed the squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers. Relating to Rice, Southgate said: “There are not many players of his age playing as well as he is in the Premier League.”

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Rice, who was born in London and has Irish grandparents, considers himself “to be of mixed nationality” and last week saw his switch to England ratified by FIFA as his three senior caps for the Republic came in friendlies.

The 20-year-old has been immediately drafted into the Three Lions set-up, with the defensive midfielder to be included in Southgate’s squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

Rice’s switch has sparked debate and the Football Association of Ireland put him further in the spotlight by announcing him as its Young Player of the Year less than 24 hours before England’s squad announcement on Wednesday afternoon.

A statement from the FAI read: “At the time of the vote, Declan Rice was an Ireland international and qualified for the Young Player category in a year that saw him win three senior caps, all in ‘3’ international friendly games.

“Declan Rice has since opted to switch his allegiance to England. The FAI has completed his international transfer via the FIFA protocols and wishes him well in the future.

“This award maintains the integrity of the voting process in conjunction with the Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland and the FAI thanks the jury members for their decisions relating to the awards.”

The FAI has confirmed that Rice will not be at the awards ceremony on Sunday, when he will instead be preparing to link up with his new England team-mates for the first time.

Resurgent goalkeeper Tom Heaton is set to join Rice in the squad for the Euro 2020 double-header, having shone for Burnley after fighting his way back into the side after a shoulder injury that ruled him out of the World Cup.

In-form Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse was under serious consideration, two years after winning his one and only cap, however he did not make the final squad.

Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also highly rated by the England manager, but Bissaka has to stick with the Under-21’s for the  European Championship.

Eric Dier, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Fabian Delph have struggled for game time recently, however they remain in the squad.

Dele Alli provided an assist on his first appearance since January 20 and assistant manager Steve Holland was at St Mary’s to also run the rule over Danny Rose, who faces intense competition at left-back from Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell. All three of whom were selected for the squad.

First-choice goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is under scrutiny after a poor display in Everton’s loss at Newcastle however he still remains the number one.



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