MX23RW : Saturday, September 22 15:33:10

Declan Rice: "England have never wanted me"

West Ham United defender Declan Rice insists that playing for the Republic of Ireland was always his only choice and that England never considered him as a youngster.

West Ham United defender Declan Rice has stated that his international future was never in doubt and the Republic of Ireland was always his only choice.

The 19-year-old, who was born in London, has flown out with Martin O'Neill's squad for Friday's friendly against Turkey in Antalya.

Rice is then expected to link up with Ireland's Under-21s for a Euros qualifier against Azerbaijan on Tuesday.

Speaking of the teenager, England boss Gareth Southgate stated in January that "we are aware of his situation", but the player has made it clear where his allegiances lie.

"There's no decision to be made," Rice told Sky Sports News.

"I'm here with Ireland and I've been called up by Martin. I'm really looking forward to this week and I'm looking forward to getting to know the boys better.

"I haven't had a call from anyone at the FA. Not at all. England have never wanted me at underage level, it's always been Ireland."

Rice picked up the Republic of Ireland Under-19 Player of the Year gong at the FAI Awards on Sunday night.

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A general shot of a Premier League football ahead of the Premier League clash between Everton and West Ham United at Goodison Park on October 30, 2016
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