England squad: Declan Rice earns first call-up for Euro 2020 qualifiers

England squad: Declan Rice earns first call-up for Euro 2020 qualifiers

England manager Gareth Southgate highlighted the importance of Declan Rice's character and mentality in earning a first Three Lions call-up after switching global allegiance.

England face the Czech Republic and Montenegro this month, with West Ham midfielder Rice being called up for the first time since switching his global allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England.

England coach Gareth Southgate wasted no time in selecting Rice, whose switch of allegiance was ratified by Federation Internationale de Football Association last week, ahead of European Championship qualifiers against Czech Republic at Wembley Stadium on March 22 and at Montenegro three days later.

"The fact Declan played three senior global games for us makes it a tad more disappointing, but good luck to the lad, we hope he does really well".

"His form warrants his selection", Southgate told reporters on Wednesday.

"The situation has been well publicised and we have tracked him for a quite a while".

The 18-year-old winger has racked up nine goals and 11 assists in all competitions this season for Lucien Favre's side.

Such attributes led the Three Lions boss and former Football Association technical director Dan Ashworth to visit Rice before last summer's World Cup, when they made it clear they saw an worldwide future for him.

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"We don't have many English goalkeepers playing, all of those that are playing have had moments and spells of good form, making good saves and days when they have not been so good", Southgate is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

"We always want to play in a way that excites people, we want a team that the public are proud to watch and we hope to play our part". We look forward to welcoming him next week.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (left) and West Ham United's Declan Rice (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. "So how far a player can go is entirely up to them".

Southgate's comment was directed especially both to critics who have not "walked in those shoes" and former players that benefited from the rules.

In recent years, England has seen wingers Alex Iwobi and Wilfried Zaha opt to play for Nigeria and Ivory Coast, respectively, even though they could have played for England.

The Three Lions face Czech Republic and Montenegro later this month as they look to build on promising performances at the World Cup and in the Nations League.

The mood in Ireland has not been helped by the timing - his call-up comes just 24 hours after he was nominated the FAI young player of the year after a vote that took place before news of the switch emerged.

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