Nations League: Declan Rice focused on England after Republic 'backlash'

Declan Rice
West Ham midfielder Declan Rice played in all but four of West Ham's Premier League games this season

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice says he is focused on performing for England after the "backlash" over his decision to switch allegiance from the Republic of Ireland.

The 20-year-old, who won three Republic caps, said he "always knew" the fallout was "going to blow over".

Rice has played twice for England since announcing the change in February.

"There are much more important things to be focused on than to be worrying about that," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I'm so laid back I don't really take much notice of it at all. I'm just focused on what I have to do for club and country," said Rice.

Rice, who was born in England but had Irish grandparents, played for the Republic from under-16 level, but because his senior caps came in friendlies he was permitted to switch allegiance.

On Monday he was named in the England squad to face the Netherlands in the Nations League semi-final on 6 June.

Rice added: "It's massive, not only for me but for the manager and the nation. You know the lads want to go out there and put a good account of themselves."

Rice made his England debut in the Euro 2020 qualifier against the Czech Republic on 22 March.

He played 38 games in all competitions for West Ham this season as they finished 10th in the Premier League.

"It's the best season of my career so far," said Rice, who made his debut in May 2017.

"When I look back at the things I have achieved this season at such a young age, I'm really proud of it, but I know there is more work to be done.

"I remember last season I was making mistakes and it was costing us and it was leading to goals.

"In the Premier League you need to be on your game all the time and that's the main thing I have taken from this year."

Right-back spot now a 'four-way battle'

Tottenham defender Kieran Trippier was left out of England's 23-man squad, with Manchester City's Kyle Walker and Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold preferred at right-back.

England boss Gareth Southgate said dropping Trippier, who scored in the World Cup semi-final defeat by Croatia last summer, was "as hard a decision as we have had to make".

England assistant manager Steve Holland told Radio 5 Live: "He is one we won't hesitate to call up in the future if necessary - and that future could be very soon because we still have one game to navigate with one of those players.

"I would also add that with the progress Aaron Wan Bissaka has made this season, it's not just a three-way battle - it's a four-way battle."

Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph was included despite making only 11 Premier League appearances for the treble winners this season.

Holland said: "Frankly, had he been at any other club than the champions of England, he would have been playing much more frequently.

"He is a player that can cover full-back, but he can play in any of those three positions across the midfield, right, left or centre and is a player with athleticism, leadership and quality."

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