Southgate accepts Declan Rice's apology for IRA tweets

England manager Gareth Southgate believes England supporters will "understand" Declan Rice's explanation for his posts in support of the IRA on social media. And he has accepted the West Ham player's apology for the controversial tweets.

Earlier today, Rice issued an apology for messages he posted three and a half years ago on social media when he represented Ireland.

The 20-year-old has since switched allegiance to England despite winning three senior caps for the Republic of Ireland.

"He's apologised. It's not representative of what he believes and what he feels," Southgate said today.

"Outside of that it was when he was 15 or 16 and engaged in conversation with friends.

"We've probably said things, written things that would look different several years later."

Given that the FA have previously condemned the anti-IRA chanting sections of the England support engage in. Southgate was asked how Rice's tweets will be regarded by the fanbase.

"Our messaging doesn't change. Declan's statement is consistent with that. "We are against any of our supporters taking up that stance. I don't think anything changes form an England or FA point of view.

"I think people understand. Most people will have children of those kind of ages. They are still maturing. You can get giddy or say things you don't know much about. Our fans or our public will understand that fact."

In one Twitter reply to an Ireland U17 team-mate in 2015, Rice wrote: “UP THE RA – Wait til we draw England.”

Now on England duty ahead of Friday's international with the Czech Republic, Rice today issued an apology on Instagram, claiming he was attempting to show support for his Ireland teammates.

"I am aware that a poorly expressed comment I made when I was a junior player has been circulated on social media.

"I recognise now that my attempt to show support for my teammates at the time could be negatively interpreted.

"While my naive words were not meant to be a political opinion and do not represent who I am, I sincerely apologise for any offence caused."

The Football Association has confirmed it is aware of Rice's historic posts.

"We are aware of the matter and will be writing to him to remind him of his responsibilities," said an official.

Updated with Gareth Southgate comments at 5:52pm.

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