So we have here again after 3 senior caps in non competitive friendlies , Declan Rice the West Ham player who has been capped at each level by the Republic Of Ireland since Under 16 level and is now in the words of Martin O Neill “ Deliberating his international future” after some overtures from England , the country of his birth.
It’s a funny thing of course given that England finish fourth at this Summer’s World Cup and hey presto we are back talking about another player who doesn’t know where his loyalty lies. From Declan Rice’s perspective he has amble time to say no thanks to the Republic Of Ireland an work to gain selection for England but after 3 caps in three friendlies his debut in March and two caps in May.
Now conveniently, he is deliberating his future. He should not have the choice at this point to decide where his International career lies. The FAI have been here before with Jack Grelish , but at least he declined a call up in the hope of a call up by England.
Here we are again on the eve of the Nations League starting up and the focus in the aftermath of a squad announcement we are back talking about a player that is questioning his commitment to the cause. He can of course still turn out for England as his three caps came in three friendlies at not in a World Cup qualifier in that case his eligibility would not be in question.
This situation is happening far too often, with Liam Kelly the full back and Jack Grelish both declining call ups and the slight difference being that Rice has 3 caps. What do the FAI do in this situation, do they just cut him adrift, or do they wait for his decision or do they be bold and call him up anyway and force his hand either way.
The FAI and Martin O Neill need to do what is best for the squad as a whole and cannot be held to ransom by a player who may or may not turn out in the green of Ireland again, the jersey is supposed to be hard earned and cherished by the player in possession of said jersey.
Why Declan Rice didn’t just decline a call up earlier this year is a mystery if he felt so strongly drawn to pulling on an England jersey. Yes he is only 19 with still to be proven talent on a consistent basis. He will get plenty of stick from people over this situation and will need those who advise him to be very clear in how they handle this situation.
FIFA and UEFA need to clear up these rules and make it very clear to any player that if you represent a country in a friendly then that will tie you to that country in a competitive fixtures aswell and not have this grey area where you be capped in a friendly and still change allegiance afterward.
For now though it is important to focus on the squad that was selected for the Welsh game and the preparations for that game on September 8th. It is important we start the Nations League in the correct manner…..
Cian Mc Gibney