James McClean has told any Irish player looking to follow in the footsteps of Declan Rice to “sod off and play for someone else”.
Rice recently came into the spotlight after switching allegiances from the Republic of Ireland to England after having picked up three caps in friendlies for the Boys in Green.
Why did Rice switch allegiances? Five key things to know…
- Having represented the Republic of Ireland at various youth levels Rice earned his first cap in March 2018.
- The 20-year-old would play a further two matches for the nation but in February of this year he pledged his future to England.
- Rice was eligible to transfer nations as his three caps were not competitive fixtures.
- He received a first England call-up this international break and played both Euro 2020 qualifiers.
- McClean has now hit out claiming Rice has used the Republic of Ireland as a ‘stepping stone’ to play for England.
Rice was able to transfer nations on account of not featuring for the Republic of Ireland in a competitive fixture.
As such the West Ham enforcer received his first Three Lions call-up this international break and made his debut in a comprehensive 5-0 mauling of the Czech Republic.
Rice followed up his 30-minute Wembley cameo with a stellar performance in the 5-1 win over Montenegro, starting his first match in England colours.
It has been an unforgettable week for the rising starlet but his former international teammate, McClean, has since criticised the midfielder’s decision to turn his back on the Republic of Ireland.
Asked about Rice in an interview with RTE, McClean said: “He said he was a proud Irishman. Then he said he was a proud Englishman.
“If he’s both… good luck to him but I don’t buy it. I think you’re either one or the other.
“I was with Derry City when I got the call-up to play for the North, and I turned it down because it’s not my country, it’s never been my country. I’m an Irishman.
“It’s not just Declan, it’s anyone else. If you’re not proud to be here and we’re a stepping stone, then sod off and play for someone else.
“I’m an Irishman. I grew up on the island of Ireland, simple as that. We only want players here who want to play for Ireland, who feel Irish and are proud to be Irish.”
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‘Declan Rice could become England’s scapegoat’ – Cascarino
Former Republic of Ireland striker Tony Cascarino believes Rice is in danger of becoming the whipping boy of English football because of his unadventurous style of play.
Rice has been a revelation at West Ham this season, endearing himself to the Hammers faithful while proving a priceless commodity for Manuel Pellegrini.
However, Cascarino believes Rice’s reluctance to make more audacious decisions with the ball at his feet could potentially foster criticism from England fans.
In The Times, Cascarino wrote that Rice: “Played the vital Jordan Henderson role really well: simply breaking up play and then moving the ball on to a team-mate unerringly.
“I just fear he could be made a scapegoat in the future as people ask: ‘What does he actually do?'”