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Soccer-Rice handed first England call-up after switch from Ireland


Reuters
Updated: 13-03-2019 19:54 IST
Soccer-Rice handed first England call-up after switch from Ireland

West Ham United youngster Declan Rice was named in the England.squad on Wednesday for this month's European Championship qualifiers just weeks after pledging his allegiance despite having already played for Ireland. The 20-year-old defensive midfielder, who has made three senior appearances for Ireland, elected last month to make himself available to England manager Gareth Southgate.

His call-up comes in the same week that he was named Ireland's Young Player of the Year. World governing body FIFA ratified Londoner Rice's switch last week as he had not played a competitive game for Ireland.

"His form warrants it," Southgate told a news conference. "The situation has been well publicised and we have tracked him for a quite a while. "When you are asking a player to transfer allegiance they have to feel they have a future, but also there are no guarantees. But his form has been excellent.

"His character and leadership qualities means he fits in very well into the way that we work." Burnley keeper Tom Heaton has also returned to the squad for the first time since before last year's World Cup finals.

Tottenham Hotspur duo Dele Alli and Eric Dier were also included having just returned from injury and illness. England face the Czechs at Wembley next Friday before travelling to Podgorica to face Montenegro three days later. (Reporting by Martyn Herman Editing by Christian Radnedge)


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