West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice has decided that he wants to represent England over the Republic of Ireland at international level, as reported by the BBC.
After a protracted decision-making process – which also intertwined with a period where he signed a new long-term deal at the London Stadium – Rice has decided to move away from the country he represented at youth level.
And Sky Sports report that Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate is keen to involve him in his plans at the earliest possible opportunity and wants to put him in his England squad for the forthcoming games against Czech Republic and Montenegro.
Those matches will kick off England’s Euro 2020 qualification campaign and with the semi-finals and final of that competition taking place at Wembley, Southgate’s side have a real chance of going one better than their World Cup performance last summer.
And Rice can play at both centre half and as a holding midfielder, just like one of Southgate’s existing options, Tottenham’s Eric Dier.
Dier has experienced some unbelievable highs for England – the Euro 2016 opener against Russia and the winning penalty against Colombia in July – but question marks persist over his ability in the biggest of matches.
Rice’s exceptional potential could push him ahead of Dier in the pecking order – perhaps not immediately, but eventually, given his rapid rise.
There has been a feeling that England do need to improve at the base of midfield and that could spell bad news for Dier.