Declan Rice is ready for England duty, says West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna
West Ham midfielder is in Gareth Southgate's England squad for Euro 2020 qualifiers
Last Updated: 14/03/19 2:13pm
West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna says he expected Declan Rice to earn a first call-up to the England squad after excelling this season.
Rice was named in the England squad by Gareth Southgate for the first time on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Czech Republic and Montenegro.
Rice, named the Republic of Ireland's Young Player of the Year on Tuesday, only received international clearance from FIFA to switch allegiance to England on March 5 - and Ogbonna is not surprised by his team-mate's immediate call-up.
"We expected it to happen. He has a lot of quality and we're very happy for him. It's just the beginning for him, and I wish him the best of luck," said Ogbonna.
"He has to work hard like he did all this time [to get into the West Ham side]. He's a good talent, and he's ambitious as well, so that's very important at this level.
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"With his quality, he can be in whatever squad."
The West Ham midfielder decided in February to commit his international future to England, despite having already represented Republic of Ireland three times at senior level.
Ogbonna was born in Cassino, Italy, but has Nigerian parents, obtaining Italian citizenship only after his 18th birthday. The former Juventus defender admits he had no difficulty in choosing his international allegiance.
"One hundred per cent I chose Italy, because my background is Italian even if my origins are from Nigeria," added the centre-back, who has 13 caps for Italy. "I grew up in Italy and my football coaching was all in Italy. For me, it was easy to choose Italy, and I think it was the same for Dec."
West Ham were beaten 2-0 at Cardiff last weekend to dent the club's hopes of qualifying for next season's Europa League. The Hammers currently sit ninth, five points off seventh-placed Wolves, while they are 11 points clear of the relegation zone.
Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski called on his team-mates to improve their mentality after the defeat in south Wales, admitting that being in the "comfort zone" of mid-table has led to motivational issues.
But Ogbonna said: "We have to play every game as a final, and I think Fabianski was reacting after a game because everyone was disappointed. Everyone expected for us to get another three points, and perhaps he's shown a little bit a lack of ambition.
"Every time we've had a real chance to step up [towards the European places] we've lost. Now we have Huddersfield at home, and I feel there will be a big reaction.
"We can't start like the last game. The Premier League is like that - you can't just relax because they're at the bottom of the table. You have to fight and try to get three points."