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Sunday 16 June 2019

Rice sorry for 'IRA' tweets ahead of England debut

Declan Rice. Photo: Carl Recine
Declan Rice. Photo: Carl Recine

New England midfielder Declan Rice has apologised for old social media posts he made as a teenager which appear to support the IRA.

The 20-year-old is set to feature in his first matchday squad for England in the Euro 2020 qualifier against the Czech Republic at Wembley this evening, having had his switch of allegiance from Ireland confirmed earlier this month.

A comment he made on Instagram in 2015 saying 'My brudda. UP THE RA. Wait till we draw England', and another post with the hashtag 'UPTHERA', have resurfaced and Rice has quickly apologised for them. "I am aware that a poorly-expressed comment I made when I was a junior player has been been circulated on social media," the West Ham man - who played for the Republic's youth teams from under-16 to under-21 and the senior side three times - said in an Instagram story post.

"I recognise now that my attempt to show support for my team-mates at the time could be negatively interpreted.

"While my naive words were not meant to be a political opinion and do not represent who I am, I sincerely apologise for any offence caused."

The English Football Association is aware of the historic posts.

"We are aware of the matter and will be writing to him to remind him of his responsibilities," said an official.

Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford has been ruled out of England's qualification double-header after failing to shake off an ankle injury, manager Gareth Southgate has said.

The Three Lions' preparations for this evening's opener against the Czechs at a sold-out Wembley have been hampered somewhat by a string of injuries.

John Stones, Fabian Delph, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Luke Shaw and Trent Alexander-Arnold have dropped out of the squad this week, offset only by the additions of Callum Hudson-Odoi and James Ward-Prowse.

Southgate's initial 25-man selection is now down to 21 players after striker Rashford returned to Manchester United on the eve of this evening's tie.

The 21-year-old had an individual session indoors away from the main training group at St George's Park on Thursday and Southgate has now confirmed that an ankle issue has seen him withdraw.

Asked about Rashford, Southgate said at a press conference: "He's been with our medical team all week and we've tried to progress him but it's clear he's not going to be ready for our matches so we've sent him back."

EURO 2020 GROUP a qualifier

ENGLAND v CZECH REP

LIVE VIRGIN 1/ITV (KO 7.45)

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