Declan Rice's West Ham teammate gives ominous message in Sky Sports interview
"When England come knocking, it's hard to ignore."
That was the message that Michail Antonio had for Declan Rice when the West Ham pair discussed Rice's international future, the debate about which continues to drag on.
Rice is eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland due to his Cork grandparents and the versatile midfielder has represented Ireland at underage level since the age of 15.
But the London-born player has refused to fully commit himself to either England or Ireland, having not played a competitive game for the latter yet.
New Ireland manager Mick McCarthy has vowed to build the team around Rice, who scored his first West Ham goal on Saturday in the Hammers' victory against Arsenal.
“So, he'll play a lot of games for England, won't he?!” https://t.co/2Vw5nkDJjX
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) January 13, 2019
Michail Antonio understands Rice's dilemma better than most because, as you might remember, he rejected the opportunity to play for Jamaica in the hope of breaking into the England squad and he has offered his teammate some advice about his current quandary.
"It's a difficult situation because I can't put myself in his shoes," Antonio said on Goals on Sunday.
"I've spoken to him about it. He's got a bit of loyalty to Ireland because obviously he's played through the younger ranks but when England come knocking, it's hard to ignore.
'He reminds me of Kante and Makelele!' 😍
Very high praise from @Michailantonio for @_DeclanRice, who adds that the midfielder is good enough to play for Ireland or England, no matter who he chooses. 🇮🇪⚽🏴
Watch Goals on Sunday live on Sky Sports PL now! #GoS pic.twitter.com/doIntmD83J
— Sky Sports GOS (@GoalsOnSunday) January 13, 2019
"I think he's doing the right thing by taking his time and thinking about his situation.
"But I believe that it doesn't matter who he picks. He's going to be playing for either team. In the position he's in, at the age of 19, I don't think there are many people better than him in that defensive, holding position.
"I would say holding midfield is his best position because he just breaks everything up. If an opposition full-back goes up, he's able to go out wide to deal with it. He can play right-back too!
"Do you know who he reminds me of? N'Golo Kante and Claude Makelele, those types of players are what he reminds me of because he completely breaks things up and gets the team ticking."