Martin O'Neill on Declan Rice: 'I haven't set any deadline - it's important to give him time'

Mon, Aug 27 2018

Rice has played a key part in Ireland's under-21 European Championship qualifying campaign. Credit: Laszlo Geczo (ETPhotos)

The big news emerging from Martin O’Neills squad announcement this morning is that there is no place in it for West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.

Rice has donned the green jersey at underage level and also three times under Martin O’Neill, including a man of the match performance in a friendly against Turkey.

Unfortunately for Ireland fans, all three were friendly appearances leaving Rice who was born in England still with a decision to make on his future in the coming days or weeks.

The provisional squad for the opening UEFA Nations League games in Wales and Poland was  unveiled by the FAI minutes before the press conference began.

The immediate concern and thoughts by those present were regarding the omission of Rice, and O’Neill responded calmly and advised that the player just needs more time.

“Declan is still deliberating and wants some more time before he makes that final decision,” he explained at the squad announcement.

“England have spoken to him and we are aware of that. He’s taking a little bit more time with a big decision ahead for the young man.

“England is the place of his birth and we have to respect that and give him a little bit more time. We are still hopeful.

“I’ve spoken to him and his family and his father is very keen on him to play for us but he simply needs a little bit more time.”

“If I was the England manager I would be doing the same thing as well. He’s got a lot to think about and it’s a big decision for him.”

O’Neill said his effort to ‘sell’ the Irish set-up to Rice is now done and, in terms of welcoming and making him feel involved, that everybody from the players to the fans have done as much as they could.

It is now down to what the player himself feels is right for him now.

“I don’t think it’s a case of trying to sell anything to him over the next few days. Declan has enjoyed his time underage so far and on each occasion he has been involved with our squad.

“As far as selling it to him goes, everyone involved in the Irish setup from players right through to fans have been brilliant and we now need to respect his opinion and allow time.

“I haven’t set any deadline for the player at all as it’s important to give him time.”

Looking ahead to the Nations League opener against Wales on Thursday, September 6th, Norwegian-born goalkeeper Sean McDermott received his first call-up.

McDermott has represented Ireland at under -17, under-19 and under-21 grades so far has received his first senior Republic of Ireland call-up. McDermott qualifies through his Donegal-born father.

Preston North End striker Callum Robinson has received his first official senior call-up for the game in Cardiff as well, having recently received international clearance.

Republic of Ireland provisional squad to face Wales and Poland:

Goalkeepers: Colin Doyle (Hearts), Sean McDermott (Kristiansund BK), Kieran O'Hara (Macclesfield Town*), Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough)

Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Richard Keogh (Derby County), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Kevin Long, Stephen Ward (Burnley), John Egan, Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers), Greg Cunningham (Cardiff City)

Midfielders: Alan Judge (Brentford), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Shaun Williams (Millwall), David Meyler (Reading), Harry Arter (Cardiff City*), Daryl Horgan (Hibernian), Callum O'Dowda (Bristol City), James McClean (Stoke City)

Forwards: Jonathan Walters (Burnley), Shane Long (Southampton), Graham Burke, Callum Robinson (Preston North End), Aiden O'Brien (Millwall)

*Indicates player is on loan