Martin O’Neill still hopeful Declan Rice will choose Ireland

Martin O’Neill still hopeful Declan Rice will choose Ireland

Martin O’Neill still hopeful Declan Rice will choose Ireland

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill says he hasn’t lost hope that Declan Rice will commit his international future to the Boys in Green.

19-year-old Rice has starred in West Ham United’s first team this season, making 11 appearances for the team in all competitions and has come into his own since playing as a holding midfielder.

He has already featured three times for Ireland, all of which have come in friendlies, but hasn’t been included in their most recent squads having asked for time to consider whether he wants to commit to Ireland.

Rice is also eligible to play for England, who have shown interest in and have been tracking him for some time, with Gareth Southgate believed to be a fan of the teenager. Despite his three Ireland caps, he is still able to switch allegiances to play for England due to the fact he hasn’t yet featured in a competitive international.

O’Neill, though, remains optimistic that Ireland could be his final choice, telling reporters:  “That may well be the case, I don’t know. I’m in contact with the family and they said they would let us know.

“There was a story last week and a couple of weeks before that. There was a story broken that was without foundation.

“The player will have the decision. I’m not waiting every single moment. I would hope that he would come and play for us – that would be great, for the next 10 or 12 years, for him.

“But he’s got things to consider and whatever decision he comes up with, I will abide with.”