Mick McCarthy clears up 'misconceptions' about Declan Rice's international hiatus

Mon, Nov 26 2018

Rice in action for Ireland under-21s against Azerbaijan earlier this year. Credit: Michael P Ryan

Dave Donnelly reports from the Aviva Stadium

Mick McCarthy has already begun talks with Declan Rice’s family about re-integrating the West Ham United teenager into the international set-up.

The London-born dual-national, who has made three appearances in friendlies for the Republic of Ireland, withdrew from international football in October to consider his options.

18-year-old Rice, who played for Ireland through the age grades, has enjoyed a prodigious rise in the English Premier League to become a regular starter with the Hammers.

His progress attracted the attention of England manager Gareth Southgate, who invited him look around the FA’s facilities in St George’s Park with a view to changing allegiance to his country of birth.

“I spoke to Declan’s father there, Sean. I had a really good conversation with him,” McCarthy said upon his unveiling as Ireland manager for the second time.

“I’ll just clear some things up, some misconceptions. Declan wasn’t not here for the games because he’d have a falling out with Roy or Martin. He’s got the utmost respect for both of those guys.

“He was asked by Gareth Southgate to go up and see St George’s Park, to see whether he could be enticed into playing with them.

“Of course, there’s a hue and cry around whether he should play and lots of different opinions. He didn’t say he wanted to or didn’t want to, but he found it overwhelming.

“I remember saying myself, perhaps he should just get in the West Ham team and take a backseat and see how he’s doing.

“Well he’s got in the West Ham team, and he’s doing well, and I’m going to go and speak to him in December when his father’s around, and sit down and have a chat with them both.”

McCarthy also expressed a willingness to speak with players such as Harry Arter, who withdrew from the international panel following a row with former assistant manager Roy Keane.

The Bournemouth midfielder, who is currently on loan with Cardiff City, returned for Martin O’Neill’s final games in November and has shown no indication he’ll curtail his future involvement.

“There’s been enough press coverage on that, although I don’t believe everything I read, for me to know the reasons why. I’ll be speaking to everybody – all the players. I’ve got to.

“As we’ve got no games, I’ve the opportunity to go around and watch them, talk to them and, if he’s feeling uncomfortable, to try and alleviate that and make him feel comfortable, wanted and wanted to play in the team.”

The draw for the Euro 2020 qualifiers takes place in Dublin on Sunday, December 2nd.