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Declan Rice: Gareth Southgate says dual nationality is 'complicated' issue

16 March 2019

The 20-year-old pledged his global future to the Three Lions last month, having played for the Republic of Ireland at youth level and in three senior friendly matches last year. We have to help him through what was hopefully a blip, and he has to train and play well.

"Fundamentally, in this actual instance, he's a boy that was born in London and educated at an English academy. There were others who have commented despite the fact that they didn't play for the country of their birth, so they have benefited from some of the rules that are there".

The London-born player's decision sparked debate - and in some arenas backlash - but Southgate defended Rice after making a "complex decision" in a changing world.

On Rice call-up: "We've tracked him for quite a while".

Like Rice, Everton defender Keane had a choice between England and Ireland with his father having left the Republic as a nine-year-old to start a new life across the Irish Sea.

"As I said last month, I had an extremely difficult decision to make regarding my worldwide future, but I have made that decision and now I just want to focus on the future, continuing to work hard and play as well as I possibly can".

Preston-born former Ireland worldwide Kevin Kilbane has been outspoken about Rice's switch and said it "makes a mockery" of global football. "But I don't think that's right".

Jack Grealish declared for England in 2015
Jack Grealish declared for England in 2015

He is clearly upset that Ireland has lost a very talented footballer but unlike some supporters, he appreciates that it's the system that is to blame and not the player. We have a few in our squad, but in the end, mentality often dictates how far players can go.

But Pickford's performances in an England shirt are enough to keep the manager happy with his contribution for now as he called on the former Sunderland man to keep pushing on.

On Pickford: "You can look across the squad and say they have had moments where they played well and moments not so well".

"What I like in our squad, is there are a lot of players who want to be among the best in the world".

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.

"I'm never keen to say that this player is the no. 1, and that's it, because you've always got to have competition for places", he said.

"Jordan has played extremely well for us", Southgate added.

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Declan Rice: Gareth Southgate says dual nationality is 'complicated' issue