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Ireland U21 coach King: West Ham defender Rice flattered by England approach

Republic of Ireland U21 coach Noel King is frustrated knowing West Ham defender Declan Rice is thinking about committing to England.

Rice featured in the last five matches for King's side, helping them challenge Germany for top spot in their European Championship group, and had been given permission by senior manager Martin O'Neill to line up again next Tuesday against the Germans.

That all occurred before Rice dropped the bombshell of postponing his international career in the face of interest from England.

King told the Irish Independent: "It's flattering if England come calling, let's be fair.

"When I call some players, they're flattered as well.

"International football is very attractive and players eligible for more than one country are allowed to change nationality under Fifa's rules.

"Declan is a good player, a nice lad with great character, and his head has been turned a little bit. It's a massive decision for him and his family will want him doing the right thing.

"In the same way as the Jack Grealish case, I'm more disappointed than shocked. Martin has given Declan time, so there is hope."

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Paul Vegas

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