Saturday 16 December 2017

FAI move to secure teen Rice

West Ham's Declan Rice
West Ham's Declan Rice

The FAI hope that an unexpected call-up for West Ham prospect Declan Rice will fend off interest in the player from Rice's native England and avoid a repeat of the Jack Grealish saga.

A 19-strong group of players are this week in Cork for training ahead of the three-game series in June.

Cork City keepers Mark McNulty (36) and Alan Smith (23) will join in for training as the senior keepers in Martin O'Neill's squad have been given more time off. Cork native Alan Browne (Preston) is also involved.

But O'Neill sprung a surprise by calling up Hammers starlet Rice (18) as he only made his Premier League debut last Sunday.

"My Nan and Grandad are Irish, so that is how I qualify to play for them," said Rice, on the FAI's books since U16 level and, amid reports that England were tracking him as they did with Grealish, this senior Ireland call could cement his place in the Irish set-up.

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