West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has revealed that he has spoken to both England manager Gareth Southgate and Ireland manager Mick McCarthy about his international future and outlined that he will decide who to represent “soon.”
Rice has been embroiled in an international tug-of-war between Ireland and England after he was left out of Martin O’Neill’s squad in August, following interest from the Three Lions in the 19-year old.
The Hammers midfielder made three friendly appearances for Ireland during the summer and has been grabbing the attention of many this season thanks to his tremendous displays at the heart of the West Ham midfield.
Rice also recently signed a contract extension at the Olympic Stadium following a number of months of uncertainty over his future at the club, and now that this issue has been resolved the midfielder outlined that a decision on his international career is imminent.
“I knew by playing in all the games and doing well that something had to give and the contract would come — and I was delighted to sign it. I saw other clubs mentioned but it would have been disrespectful of me to have considered leaving West Ham and my team-mates. My intentions were always to stay here and I feel this is the best place for me.
“With regard to my international future, myself, my dad and my brother [Connor] have talked with Ireland coach Mick McCarthy and I’ve also spoken to Gareth Southgate,” Rice told the Evening Standard.
“They’ve both said that whenever I’m ready, it’s up to me to make a decision. There was so much going on earlier in the season but now most of that has been sorted, so I will make a decision soon.”
There had been reports that Rice’s fantastic season so far has caught the eye of Pep Guardiola who may see the 19-year old as the perfect long-term replacement for the ageing Fernandinho at the heart of the Manchester City midfield.
Speaking to Goals On Sunday last month, Mick McCarthy outlined that he had a good meeting with Rice as Ireland fans continue to hold their breath over a player that the new Irish boss claimed he would build his team around should the 19-year old declare for the Boys in Green.
Rice also outlined that the decision over his international future as well as the contract negotiations with West Ham did not affect the young midfielder’s mentality.
“I’ve always been good at handling stuff mentally. I knew the new contract would happen. It was a long wait but I was aware that, if I started thinking about it too much, it would distract me. We were playing vital games and you just can’t let stuff like that distract you.”