Declan Rice is fast becoming one of the most important names on Martin O’Neill’s teamsheet.
Despite the fact that the 19-year-old’s international career is still in its infancy, Rice’s performances in his three Ireland matches thus far are pushing him to the front and centre of O’Neill’s plans in the UEFA Nations League later this year.
After yet another brilliant showing against USA on Saturday night, one that earned him a second man-of-the-match award, O’Neill was full of praise for the versatile West Ham youngster:
“I thought he was exceptional tonight. He has shown great maturity.
“His ball to James McClean in the last couple of minutes, I said, it was as if he has played 100 times for his club and international games.
“Finding the man and playing the pass with precision, which allowed James go into the penalty area, before Alan Judge followed it in.
“Where he plays is another thing. He played in midfield tonight but I’m not so sure he knows himself exactly where he wants to play
“The fact that he played so assured tonight, augers well for him and hopefully for us.”
Rice has effectively played in three different positions for Ireland to date, excelling in all of them with composure, maturity and leadership far beyond his years.
With the speculation surrounding his international allegiance now surely a thing of the past, he can look forward to being an integral part of this Ireland side in the Nations League, Euro 2020 campaign and beyond.