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West Ham owner wants new manager to turn Ireland's Declan Rice into England player

By Stephen Barry

West Ham co-owner David Gold has already set a highly ambitious target for new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

The Hammers secured the Premier League-winner's services yesterday, with Gold hoping the Argentine can help develop the club's young stars.

The biggest of those is teenage centre-half Declan Rice, who was capped for the Republic of Ireland against Turkey in March.

So Martin O'Neill may be surprised to learn of Gold's ambitions for the London-born youngster.

"We have one of the brightest young centre-backs coming through from the academy in Declan Rice. He's 19 years of age," Gold told Jim White on talkSPORT.

"We want Pellegrini to turn this young man into an England player. That is the absolute truth."

As Rice, who has grandparents from Cork, is yet to play a competitive fixture for Ireland, he would still be eligible if called upon by the Three Lions.

However, he has repeatedly committed his future to Ireland.

In March, he said: "There's no decision to be made. If I didn't want to be playing for Ireland, I wouldn't be here."