Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy says Declan Rice is ‘a player I can build a team around’, but insists he will not put pressure on the youngster as he deliberates his international future.
The West Ham starlet is stalling on whether to commit to Ireland or switch his alleigence to England, who have an expressed an interest in calling him up.
Rice, 19, was born in London but qualifies for Ireland through his grandparents and he has made three appearances for the Republic of Ireland team.
However, as those were all in friendlies, he can still make the switch over to his native England.
And while McCarthy has guaranteed Rice a place in his team if he picks the green shirt, the Ireland boss insists he will allow the versatile defender/midfielder to make his own choice.
Speaking to talkSPORT host Jim White, the manager said: “There’s a lot going on for the young man
“We say, ‘oh they should be able to makes their minds up’, but he’s young fella and he’s only just got into the West Ham team.
“I remember saying when I was doing some stuff with Ireland, ‘look, let him get into the West Ham team, let him settle, let him be a first team player and then he’ll make his mind up’.
“I’m still of the same opinion.
“If he wants to play for me I’ll be delighted, and I’ll be picking him, but I’ve left it with him. I can’t do anymore.
“It’s not my job to decide whether he plays for the Republic of Ireland.
“There was a real issue with his contract [at West Ham] and they got that sorted out now, so I guess he’s got his head clear on that and he can make his mind up.
“My job is to pick him if he decides to play for us, and I hope he does because he’s an excellent player.
“He’s a player I can build a team around.”