Declan Rice heads West Ham into the lead against Newcastle, in a performance which drew great praise from his manager, Manuel Pellegrini. Jane Stokes-ProSports-Rex-Shutterstock

West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini insists Declan Rice is primed to play for England and is already their best option as holding midfielder.

Rice confirmed last month that he intends to represent the Three Lions in future, announcing his decision to switch international allegiance from Republic of Ireland – the country of his grandparents – after deliberating for some months.

The 20-year-old revealed he consulted England boss Gareth Southgate, former Ireland manager Martin O’Neill and his successor Mick McCarthy in the process, before ultimately settling on the change.

Rice has earned rave reviews in midfield for West Ham this season and was impressive again in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Newcastle United, in which he opened the scoring, and Pellegrini feels it would be a no-brainer for Southgate to select him for March’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Czech Republic and Montenegro.

“He’s a complete player,” Pellegrini told reporters. “That is a player who, for me, is the best English holding midfielder. The other important thing is he is trying to learn every day.

“He’s a young player who has just started his career. He must try to continue listening, keep doing the things he does every day, play and get the experience he needs.”

Rice has played 26 of West Ham’s 29 Premier League matches this season.

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