Martin O’Neill has said Declan Rice’s international situation is not the same as that of Jack Grealish as the Ireland manager reaffirmed his hope that the West Ham youngster will choose to represent the Boys In Green.
Rice was, as expected, not named in O’Neill’s Ireland squad for the forthcoming matches against Northern Ireland (friendly) and Denmark (Nations League) in Dublin.
A report from England last week suggested that Rice has chosen the land of his birth and but O’Neill he reiterated that he is in contact with the Rice family and there is no update.
O’Neill also claimed he couldn’t cap Rice – who has played three friendlies for Ireland – “any quicker than he did” and stated that his senior appearances for Ireland make his situation totally different to that of Grealish, who chose England after representing Ireland at underage level.
“There’s no change, I’ve been talking to his dad and there’s going to be a decision from him and his family at the end of the year,” said O’Neill.
“I’m always hopeful, there are a lot of stories coming out I don’t think there’s been any change.
“It’s up to the player, he has a lot of things to consider and a lot of things might favour England, but I’m hopeful.”
“I couldn’t have capped him any more quickly because there wasn’t that opportunity and, secondly, like everything else, it’s the player’s decision,” added O’Neill.
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“He would have been in the squad for our opening competitive fixture. He had played the friendly games and had done very well in the matches and, of course, it was his choice and the realisation the minute he played competitively that was it..he was well aware of that there.
“That’s why he chose not to participate which is really understandable considering when he was born.
“There seems to be a lot of comparisons drawn with him and young Grealish.
“Jack Grealish was born in England and so was his father and he chose to play for England. And that was entirely his choice. Whether he’s made the right choice or not, only time will tell. In the case with young Declan, he has played senior football for us, albeit friendly games, maybe there might be a change of ruling, a totally different subject. Showing someone stats if that’s the case and actually playing, that’s totally different things.”
O’Neill added that the decision is firmly with the player and he will respect whatever road he takes.
“These issues are far from cut and dry and I’m well aware of it. Until someone decides this is it. Not only has he got what I call soulful decisions but he also has to consider other decisions, he has to consider, well, the idea of maybe performing for England, you would accept it’s more difficult to play for England, but the enhancements that go along with that, a lot of them have to be considered in this day and age.”
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