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Rice wins Ireland gong on eve of expected England call-up


London (AFP) – Declan Rice was named the Republic of Ireland’s young player of the year on Tuesday, a day before the West Ham midfielder is expected to receive his first call-up by England.

The 20-year-old decided after much deliberation last month to switch allegiance from Ireland, for whom he made three senior international appearances, to the Three Lions.

“At the time of the vote, Declan Rice was an Ireland international and qualified for the Young Player category in a year that saw him win three senior caps,” a statement from the FAI read.

“Declan Rice has since opted to switch his allegiance to England. The FAI has completed his international transfer via the FIFA protocols and wishes him well in the future.”

Rice, who was born in London and has Irish grandparents, considers himself “to be of mixed nationality” and last week saw his switch to England ratified by FIFA.

Having shone for West Ham this season, Rice is expected to be included in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro on Wednesday.

The FAI has confirmed that Rice will not be at the awards ceremony on Sunday, when he will instead likely be preparing to link up with his new England teammates for the first time.

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