By 90Min
March 19, 2019

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice is in line make his England debut against the Czech Republic on Friday following his controversial switch from the Republic of Ireland set-up. 

The 20-year-old could start for Gareth Southgate's side, with Liverpool's Jordan Henderson struggling for fitness as he continues to battle a troublesome ankle injury, even though this is his first inclusion in an England camp.

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Rice made 23 appearances for the Republic of Ireland over five age levels but chose to switch allegiance to England in February 2019, and his move across is understood to be the start of a new era in which England can expect young players to have the option of playing for another country.

As it stands, 55 of the 75 Under-15s on the Three Lions' radar are eligible to play for another nation and former FA technical director, Dan Ashworth, claims the national side must be careful "to not restrict themselves as a recruiter.”


“It generates great debate. ‘If they are not born in England, they can’t play for England!’ You look at other sports and other countries, and you want to recruit from the biggest pool you possibly can," Ashworth said, as quoted by the Daily Mirror.

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“You would not want to restrict yourself as a recruiter. You need to make sure you have got as big a pool as possible of people who are eligible through the rules and regulations – your ‘grandparenting rule'."

Rice has impressed for the Hammers this season but his switch of allegiance to England came with a lot of controversies due to the time in which he had played for Ireland.

“Diversity of the population in England means that we have 75 under-15s on our radar, our ‘long list’ and 55 of them have dual or more nationality and are eligible for more than one country. That could be Scotland, Ireland and Wales as well, but the diversity of our country is thankfully changing," Ashworth added.

“That gives us a bigger and better pool of players to pick from but it also brings words of warning to governing bodies and national associations: don’t assume they are locked into your particular nation because like in club-land, there might be more suitors looking at them as well." 

Rice's inclusion in the squad is reward for a number of impressive performances for West Ham, where he has cemented himself as the club's first choice defensive midfielder, despite being a centre back by trade.

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