Manuel Pellegrini believes Declan Rice can have a big future with England should he decide to turn his back on the Republic of Ireland.
West Ham defender Rice is at the centre of an international tug-of-war having been omitted from the latest Ireland squad as he considers switching allegiance to England.
London-born Rice has three senior caps for the Republic, but they all came in
friendly matches meaning the 19-year-old could yet represent England.
A Three Lions call-up may look a long way away at the moment but Republic boss Martin O’Neill revealed England have spoken to the player.
Rice helped West Ham come from a goal down to beat AFC Wimbledon 3-1 in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night, and manager Pellegrini says the youngster has a big decision to make over his international prospects.
“He has a big problem but I think that his heart must decide if he feels more Irish or more English,” said Pellegrini.
“Maybe for him it can be more easy to play for Ireland but if you trust in yourself and you feel that you are an English player… it is a personal decision.
“It is very difficult to give advice but I am always speaking with him because he is young.
“When you are 19 you need to be strong – he is a strong player, he is a good technical player. I think he has a big future.
“With England he will have big competition but I think he is able to take that challenge, without giving him a decision. He must take the decision himself.”