Date: 10th October 2018 at 4:15pm
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Republic of Ireland and Brighton & Hove Albion centre back Shane Duffy has launched a steadfast defence of West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice.

The 6ft 19-year-old [Source: Transfermarkt] has come in for criticism of late over the well-documented international tug of war that has surrounded him.

However Duffy feels Rice has taken too much flak: “Declan is his own person first and foremost,” he told the Sun. “He has to do what he feels is best for himself, his family and his career. I know him well. He’s a very good lad – as well as a top young player.

“It’s a waiting game now. He’s taking his time making his decision and that shows you he is taking it all very seriously – it’s a huge career call. People forget the kid is only 19 and then he has the pressure of playing for a big club like West Ham in the Premier League, too. I think he’s coping with it all pretty well to be honest with you – he’s been one of their best players.”

OPINION

It’s good to see a Republic of Ireland team mate come out and actually defend Rice. The youngster has a massive decision to make and he doesn’t need everyone getting on his back constantly. Duffy has shown what a decent guy he is, putting aside his own interests as an Irishman in order to see things from Rice’s point of view. The Brighton man is correct, Rice is taking the decision seriously and taking his time to ensure he makes the right choice. As Duffy says, Rice is only 19 so this is a lot to put on young shoulders. When a player is told he could play for England rather than Ireland, after the Three Lions’ run to a World Cup semi final this summer in a tournament Martin O’Neill’s side didn’t even qualify for, they’re obviously going to be tempted, that’s just natural. Whether it’s right or not after he’s already appeared for Ireland is a matter of personal opinion, but the Hammers man deserves time to make his own decision. Duffy is giving him that, and it’s good to see.