Former Republic of Ireland international, Damien Duff has weighed in on the Declan Rice controversy saying that Ireland cannot afford to turn the youngster away.
Speaking on RTE’s panel for the Champions League qualifier between Dynamo Kiev and Ajax, the 39-year old also admitted that he and his international team mates once caught an Irish player singing the English national anthem.
“I won’t name any names here but I used to play with a player, 40, 50 caps he was with me and I remember we all caught him rapid singing the English national anthem. Did we have a problem with it? Yeah, but I still wouldn’t change it because he brought a lot to the Irish team for 5/6/7/8 years.”
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) August 28, 2018
Duff insisted that Ireland do not have the quality or depth to afford to hand Rice over to England easily.
“We’re a very proud nation. Do I want to tell him to do one and go play for England? Of course I do but we can’t. We don’t have good enough players, we don’t have a good enough squad so we can’t, we have to let him make his decision.”
“He’s a young boy, he was born in London so let’s be honest, he is English. We’ve benefited many times over the years.”
Duff believes Ireland can build their team around Rice should he pledge his allegiance to the green shirt, but that the 19-year-old will struggle to get game time should he declare for England.
“If he does go to England, good look to him. I don’t think he’ll play. If he comes here, I think he’ll play a million percent, we can build a team around him and I think it will be forgotten about because he’ll put in man-of-the-match performances like he has done.”