West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini says Declan Rice's England call-up is deserved
Pellegrini also reveals Marko Arnautovic is ready to return to the West Ham starting line-up
By Declan Olley
Last Updated: 14/03/19 2:16pm
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini believes Declan Rice’s first England call-up is “deserved” for this month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.
Rice changed international allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England last week, and Gareth Southgate has named the midfielder in England's first squad of 2019 just eight days after Rice received clearance from FIFA to switch.
Asked whether he expected Rice's call-up to happen so quickly, Pellegrini said: "Yes, because when you nominate the squad, you must choose the best players in the best performance at that moment, and I think that Declan deserves [the call-up].
"It was a big decision for him to decide which country he was going to play for.
"I think his performance allows him to play at any international competition because he's in a very good moment."
Rice will be involved in West Ham's home Premier League match against Huddersfield on Saturday, and Pellegrini revealed forward Marko Arnautovic could be set for a first start since January.
The Austrian's last four appearances for the Hammers have all been as a substitute, with reports suggesting the 29-year-old is frustrated by a lack of game time following his failed move to China in the January transfer window.
Asked whether he was planning for life without Arnautovic, Pellegrini said: "I'm just thinking about this season, I'm not thinking about next season.
"Marko was out of the team for several reasons, because his mind was out when he had the option to go to China.
"After that, he returned and he didn't work for about a week so he needed some time to recover his performance.
"After that, he was sick and was going to start against Manchester City, but he felt bad on the day.
"They are the reasons why he's started on the bench, but he's ready to return to his position."