"Screenshots circulating on social media this week showed the West Ham midfielder writing "Up the Ra" and "#upthera" underneath teammates' posts in 2015.
Asked how he thinks England supporters will react to Rice, Southgate replied: "I think they will understand both the situation he's found himself in, in transferring across [national teams], and the situation he's found himself [with the social media post]".
It would be his fourth senior global match, having won three caps for Ireland in friendlies.
Gareth Southgate said he will not hesitate to start Jadon Sancho or Callum Hudson-Odoi in England's upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers after confirming that Marcus Rashford has withdrawn from the squad due to injury.
"While my naive words were not meant to be a political opinion and do not represent who I am, I sincerely apologize for any offense caused". "I don't think he can do or say any more than he has said at this moment in time". I am a proud Englishman, having been born and raised in London.
GETTY IMAGESDeclan Rice said his comments were ``poorly expressed
Borussia Dortmund sensation Sancho is expected to be the man to step in against Czech Republic at Wembley on Friday and Montenegro in Podgorica on Monday for a pair of European Championship qualifiers, but Southgate said he is just as prepared to hand Chelsea academy prospect Hudson-Odoi his senior worldwide debut in a competitive setting.
Declan Rice said his comments were "poorly expressed". Ideally you'd have them all playing regularly and ideally they'd have a certain number of games for their clubs, but I can't wait for that.
"I'll go and just make sure he knows that firstly, that he's OK and that he's supported".
"It is good, those younger players have so much talent. I am from England", he told reporters after joining up with his new teammates at St George's Park.
"I've just got to look forward and forget about the past".
'These stories have an uncanny habit of appearing and you don't know how they've happened, ' Southgate said with a wry smile.More news: Former Mossad chief says Gantz phone hack leak 'an attack on democracy'
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