Declan Rice: England call-up for West Ham midfielder for Euro 2020 qualifiers

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice
Rice has scored two goals for West Ham this season

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has been named in England's squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro in March.

The 20-year-old switched international allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England in a move recently ratified by world governing body Fifa.

London-born Rice played three times for the Republic but qualified for England as they were all friendly appearances.

England host the Czechs on 22 March and are away in Montenegro on 25 March.

Rice is the only uncapped player in manager Gareth Southgate's 25-man squad, to which Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton is recalled.

Clarets defender James Tarkowski and Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire also return to the squad in place of Brighton's Lewis Dunk and injured Liverpool player Joe Gomez.

Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks and Manchester United counterpart Jesse Lingard have been injured and are not picked.

Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson, who scored in a win over Huddersfield Town on Saturday as he made his return from a knee injury that had kept him out since January, retains his place in the squad.

Rice, who has Irish grandparents, played for the Republic from under-16 level and went on to make three senior friendly outings last year, including games against France and the United States before the 2018 World Cup.

He broke into the West Ham first team at the start of the season and, as he considered his international future, was omitted from Republic squads because playing competitive games would have stopped him switching allegiance.

England squad

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke City), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Leicester City), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham)

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)

No guarantees for Rice - Southgate

England manager Gareth Southgate warned Rice's call-up did not guarantee an appearance for the national side.

"His form warrants his selection," he said. "It has been a well publicised situation with Declan and we have tracked him for a long time.

"When you're asking a player to transfer association you have to feel the player has a future with you.

"Saying that, there are no guarantees, but his form has been excellent. We like his character and he can play as a holding midfielder or a defender."

Heaton good competition for Pickford

Southgate expects Heaton to challenge Jordan Pickford, who has struggled for club form and had a poor game for Everton against Newcastle, for a starting spot.

"Jordan has played extremely well for us," Southgate said. "You could look at any players across our squad and say at moments they've played well and at moments they've had difficult afternoons.

"There's no question that was the case for Jordan at the weekend. I'm never keen to say this player is number one, because you've always got to have competition."

Why no Wan-Bissaka or Angus Gunn?

Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn and Crystal Palace full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka are both overlooked by Southgate.

The in-form pair are dual-qualified - Wan-Bissaka has played once for the Democratic Republic of Congo at under-20 level and Gunn is coveted by Scotland.

Southgate said: "I could pick players, give them a cap and stop them playing for someone else but I don't think that's right. Angus has got a good challenge to get into our under-21s. There's some good competition for places."

'Tripper can count himself fortunate' - analysis

Chief football correspondent Phil McNulty

Declan Rice's inclusion is the big - if somewhat predictable - news in England's squad.

And such is the stature and maturity of West Ham's 20-year-old that it would no surprise to see the midfield man, who made three appearances for the Republic of Ireland before switching allegiance to England, win his first cap instantly.

Gareth Southgate has shown loyalty to those who served him well in reaching the World Cup semi-final in Russia but Kieran Trippier can count himself fortunate to keep Crystal Palace's gifted right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 21, out of the squad given his own poor form at Tottenham.

Southampton's James Ward-Prowse, scorer of brilliant free-kicks at Manchester United and in the win over Spurs, can also be considered unlucky along with Wolves' Conor Coady.

Leicester City's James Maddison, who has had a taste of life with the England squad, may also be disappointed not to be in this one.

Southgate, however, is loyal and determined not to simply cast players aside after a spell of poor form as he keeps the bedrock of the squad that surprised in Russia and has since reached the Uefa Nations League finals in Portugal in June.

Burnley's Tom Heaton looks likely to present the biggest threat to Jordan Pickford, who has been England's undisputed number one goalkeeper in recent times but is having an indifferent season at Everton.

Southgate, however, repays those who have done well for him in the past and there is every likelihood that he will bank on Pickford stepping up to deliver the sort of performances that made him one of the stand-out performers in England's World Cup campaign.

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