Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Rice handed first England call-up after switch from Ireland

Rice handed first England call-up after switch from Ireland

"But I think we've got to look at his age and normally a player of that age making this decision would be able to do it in a much lower-profile case, as was Michael Keane, as was Matt Targett who came from Scotland, as was the case with David Brooks who went across to Wales".

Former Republic of Ireland global Andy Reid has given his blessing to Declan Rice, telling talkSPORT (Hawksbee and Jacobs, 13/03, 13:30-14:00) that he hopes he does really well for England.

Ireland's loss is Gareth Southgate's gain, however, and now all eyes will be on the forthcoming games to see if Rice can win his first cap.

Rice was named Ireland's Young Player of the Year on Tuesday after three senior appearances for the Boys in Green in 2018, and his week will only have improved after receiving a deserved call-up to Southgate's squad.

"The fact Declan played three senior global games for us makes it a tad more disappointing, but good luck to the lad, we hope he does really well".

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (left) and West Ham United's Declan Rice (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

Preston-born former Ireland worldwide Kevin Kilbane has been outspoken about Rice's switch and said it "makes a mockery" of global football. When you're asking a player to transfer association, you've got to make sure they've got a future with you.

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"There were never any guarantees made to him, but his form has been excellent".

"We like his character, his leadership qualities and he can play as a holding midfielder or a defender".

The Three Lions kick-off Group A against the Czech Republic to Wembley next Friday, before heading to Podgorica to take on Montenegro.

And he responded to Rice's critics, pointing to the fact that some of them "did not play for the country of their birth", a likely reference to Kilbane.

Southgate also gave his backing to Jordan Pickford, saying he hoped the goalkeeper's poor performance for Everton at Newcastle last weekend was "a blip". What I like about our squad is that a lot of players have the mentality that they want to be amongst the best players in the world.

The Three Lions face Czech Republic and Montenegro later this month as they look to build on promising performances at the World Cup and in the Nations League.

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