MX23RW : Tuesday, February 19 23:50:42

Manuel Pellegrini: 'Declan Rice must decide if heart feels more Irish or English'

Pellegrini discusses Rice national dilemma
© Reuters
West Ham United boss Manuel Pellegrini admits that Declan Rice has a tough decision on his hands regarding playing for the Republic of Ireland or England.

West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini has claimed that Declan Rice has "a big future" but admits that the 19-year-old has a tough decision on his hands regarding his international allegiance.

The Hammers defender has three senior caps for the Republic of Ireland, but as they all came in friendly games, the player is free to declare his allegiance to England.

Rice, who was born in London, has been omitted from Martin O'Neill's Republic squad for their next two games as he considers switching his allegiance to the country of his birth.

"His heart must decide if he feels more Irish or more English," Pellegrini told BBC Sport. "With England he will have big competition but I think he is able to take that challenge.

"Maybe for him it can be more easy to play for Ireland but if you trust in yourself and you feel that you are an English player. It is a personal decision.

"It is very difficult to give advice but I am always speaking with him because he is young. When you are 19, you need to be strong - he is a strong player, he is a good technical player. I think he has a big future."

Ireland face Wales in their opening UEFA Nations League game on September 6 before a friendly against Poland five days later.


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West Ham United's Declan Rice in action against Swansea City on March 3, 2018
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
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2Liverpool26205159154465
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4Manchester UnitedMan Utd26156552351751
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