no guarantees for declan rice – gareth southgate

07:30    14 Mar 2019

Fulham's Lazar Markovic (left) and West Ham United's Declan Rice battle for the ball
England manager Gareth Southgate says he cannot give West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice any guarantees over his international future, following a switch of allegiance from the Republic of Ireland.

The 20-year-old has been called up for England’s opening Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro, following the excellent form he has displayed for the Hammers in the Premier League this season.

Rice committed to England last month despite having three senior caps for the Republic of Ireland, and FIFA ratified his switch last week as those appearances all came in friendlies.

Southgate admitted his staff have been "tracking" Rice for some time.

"They're really big decisions when you're asking a player to transfer associations, you've got to be very clear you feel they have a future with England," Southgate said.

"That said there were no guarantees made to Declan. I think that's important because you've got to be playing well to get in the squad.

"His form's been excellent, we like what we've seen in terms of his character, personality and leadership qualities.

"He can play as a holding midfield player and I've seen him play very well as a centre-back. I think he'll fit very well."

The issue of dual nationality has become a more prevalent issue for Southgate, who said around 50 percent of England's youth teams are made up of players who can choose between two or three countries.

"The rules are the only guide we can work from," said Southgate. "Kids are asked to make decisions very young."
 

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