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Well he’s not quite changed his nationality but the West Ham centre mid has declared to play for England after having player for Ireland.

The 20 year old defensive midfielder has played for The Republic of Ireland since under 16s. He had made appearances for every age group and even the RoI first team. However, because he had only played in friendlies and not in competitive matches he was allowed to change which team he played for.

The West Ham man qualifies for both England and Ireland due to the fact that he was born in London but his grandparents are from Ireland.

Rice became a key player for West Ham as England International Jack Wilshere was out with injury. Many had noticed that Rice was still eligible to play for England having only played friendlies. In August he stated that he wanted to take time to consider his international future. As a result of this Martin O’Neill didn’t include him in any more Ireland squads and since Mick McCarthy took over he wasn’t in any of them.

There has been a mixed response since Rice revealed his international intentions. Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Andy Townsend has said there needs to be a change in the rule. He followed the same path as Rice in terms of being English but qualified for Ireland via his family. Townsend feels that once you’ve played for a nation it shouldn’t matter if it was a friendly or not.

Other pundits have had their say. Lee Dixon and Karen Carney, who have both international experience, worry that England may rush him into playing for them too early. They don’t want him to be rushed like other players have been in the past. Former Ireland captain John O’shea has praised the player for his abilities. O’Shea thinks he is a very good player and England are lucky to have him. Chris Sutton has said he’s better than some of the midfielders we have now and in particular Eric Dier. However, Dier may feel he is just being bitter after having only earning one cap…

When comparing the new England player to other centre mids it makes for interesting reading. He is similar to Henderson, Delph, Dier and Winks in terms of tackles, interceptions and chances per 90 minutes. However he has has considerably less touchers than the other players. This could be due to the fact he’s playing for West Ham and not one of the top teams like the others. Interestingly though he has played a lot more minutes than all of the others.

Rice has had a promising start to the season. He has received praise from lots of people in the game and is being tipped for a big money move from West Ham sometime soon. He is currently priced at 14/1 on Betfair to be the PFA Young Player of The Season.


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