Declan Rice should not rush decision on international future, says Jonathan Walters
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 07/10/18 4:57pm
Jonathan Walters believes “exceptional talent” Declan Rice should not be pressured to decide on his international future.
Sources have told Sky Sports News that Rice favours switching allegiance to England, despite having played three friendlies for the Republic of Ireland.
Walters, who started alongside Rice for Ireland in games against France and the USA, accepts Rice has a difficult decision to make and believes he should be afforded time and space to do so.
When asked about Rice, Walters told Goals on Sunday: "Exceptional player. I think he is brilliant and he is 19. For him at the moment, only he knows.
"There has been much made about agents and things like that but only he knows and it is a difficult decision.
"You see now players are nowhere near the first team at 19 years old but he is playing in the Premier League week in and week out.
"James Collins came down to Ipswich for a few days to train and he said he was [West Ham's] best player last season.
"The rest will come for him. He is 19 and I think it is a difficult position he has been put in. Let him concentrate on playing for West Ham and the rest will come in.
"He is in an interesting position because he is out of contract at the end of the year at West Ham as well. If I was West Ham I would be doing anything I could to keep him at that club because he is an exceptional talent."
Ireland face Denmark and Wales in the Nations League later this month, live on Sky Sports, but Walters will play no part as he is currently out with an Achilles injury.
The 35-year-old found himself in the headlines last month when an audio clip purporting to be Ireland's Stephen Ward surfaced online discussing details of a foul-mouthed altercation involving Walters, Harry Arter and Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane.
Walters confirmed the details of the altercation which were described in the audio clip were largely accurate, but stressed he is keen to put the incident behind him.
"Things happen in football. Things were said, words were exchanged. Obviously, not too far from what was leaked out," Walters said.
"I felt sorry for Stephen Ward at the time because I don't think it was his fault how it happened.
"Harry has his view on it, I have mine, but you know the position I am in - obviously I am out injured - I do not want to add fuel to that fire.
"There are two huge games coming up. We got beat comfortably by Denmark in the World Cup play-offs. We got beat comfortably by Wales. Those are two games we need to put right in the next week so the focus should not be on the side part of it."