Football: West Ham midfielder Declan Rice called up to England squad after switching allegiance from Ireland

World governing body Fifa ratified Declan Rice's switch last week as he had not played a competitive game for Ireland.
World governing body Fifa ratified Declan Rice's switch last week as he had not played a competitive game for Ireland.PHOTO: REUTERS/ACTION IMAGES

LONDON (REUTERS) - West Ham United youngster Declan Rice was named in the England squad on Wednesday (March 13) 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 mean he fits in very well into the way that we work."

The squad also include Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho and Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton who has been recalled after recovering from injury and regaining his place in the Clarets team.

Southgate also gave his backing to Jordan Pickford, saying he hoped the goalkeeper's poor performance for Everton at Newcastle last weekend was "a blip".

He described Pickford's England form as excellent but stopped short of guaranteeing the former Sunderland player would continue as first choice.

Jesse Lingard and Harry Winks were not deemed ready after injuries but Tottenham Hotspur duo Dele Alli and Eric Dier were included having just returned from injury and illness.

England face the Czechs at Wembley on March 22 before travelling to Podgorica to face Montenegro three days later.

ENGLAND SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke City), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Tom Heaton (Burnley)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell, Harry Maguire (both Leicester City), Michael Keane (Everton), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones, Kyle Walker (both Manchester City), Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier (both Tottenham Hotspur), James Tarkowski (Burnley)

Midfielders: Dele Alli, Eric Dier, (both Spurs), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley (both Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham), Fabian Delph (City)

Forwards: Marcus Rashford (United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Harry Kane (Spurs), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth), Raheem Sterling (City).