Former Republic of Ireland international Damien Duff believes that Declan Rice should be welcomed back into the Irish fold if he opts to turn down approaches from England.

Martin O'Neill confirmed that Rice had been omitted from the latest Ireland squad as the West Ham defender is reported to be deciding on his future after a meeting with Gareth Southgate.

Rice, who has played three times for Ireland at senior level, can still opt to play for the country of his birth having yet to play in a competitive senior international.

Duff admits to being irritated by the current situation but is also pragmatic and admits to a degree of sympathy for Rice who at 19, is at the start of his career.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Duff said: "Do I want to tell him to ‘go do one’ and go play for England? Of course I do, but we can’t, we don’t good enough players, we don’t have a good enough team, we don’t have a good enough squad.

"We have to let him make up his decision, he’s a young boy, he was born in London so let’s be honest, he is English.

"We’ve benefitted many times over the years, let’s be honest and in recent years from Northern Ireland.

"Could it have been handled better? Yes, but he’s a kid. He has an agent in his ear, he has David Gold in his ear. It’s better for West Ham for him to be an England international because he’s more expensive to sell on.

"It’s disappointing, he’s put pressure on himself with the way it’s panned out. If he comes back and plays for Ireland everybody’s going to be looking at his performances.

"If he does go to England, good luck to him, I don’t think he’ll play. If he comes here, I think he’ll play for Ireland, we can build a team around him and I think it will be forgotten about."

"I won’t name any names but I used to play with a player, for 40 or 50 caps he was with us, and I remember we all caught him rapid singing the English national anthem."

Should Rice continue playing for Ireland, Duff believes that the entire episode would be quickly forgotten.

"We’d have to welcome him back," he insisted. "He’d be potentially a future Ireland captain, our best player, we’d have to welcome him back."

"He’s a young boy, he’s 19, he’s still a baby. Let him make his decision, if he comes back we welcome him and good luck with his career."

Duff also revealed that in the past he played with English born players for whom Ireland would be a second choice, but insisted that there has to be a degree of pragmatism about those kind of issues.

"I won’t name any names but I used to play with a player, for 40 or 50 caps he was with us, and I remember we all caught him rapid singing the English national anthem. Did we have a problem with it? Yes, but I still wouldn’t change it because he brought a lot to the Irish team."