Football/Soccer

Mick McCarthy wants to build Republic of Ireland team around Declan Rice

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has attracted interest from England despite having twice played for Ireland
Pádraig Ó Meiscill

IRELAND manager Mick McCarthy sees Declan Rice as a future Republic of Ireland captain and a player whom he would like to build a team around should he choose to reject the advances of England in the tug-of-war over his international services.

Reports on Friday suggested that the West Ham midfielder was ready to commit to the Republic of Ireland, although that has yet to be confirmed.

McCarthy, who was appointed as successor to Martin O’Neill last month and will be in charge until handing over to Stephen Kenny in 2020, revealed on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday yesterday that he and one of his assistants, Robbie Keane, have held a meeting with Rice and the player’s father, describing it as “really good”.

“It’s not my decision as to whether he plays for the Republic of Ireland. It’s only my job that, if he wants to stay with us I could pick him,” McCarthy said.

“He’s a really talented player and he’s a lovely lad. I think he has a really nice family behind him. It’s everything about him that you want him to play for you.

“We start in March. That’s my deadline because I need to know by then. He’s certainly the type of player that you could build a team around. He could be a future captain, he is that type of player.’’

McCarthy also revealed that he has made enquiries regarding Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford, who qualifies through an Irish grandparent.

“I have asked about him. I’ve asked about a lot of players, like I normally do. My intention is to speak to Patrick. I think he does qualify. He is a terrific goalscorer,” the former Ipswich manager said.

“He has played against my teams. He won the player of the year the year Daryl Murphy got 27 goals and I thought Daryl should have got it. He puts the ball in the net and you can’t have enough of those.”

Another positive for the new Republic manager at the weekend came with striker Michael Obafemi scoring his first Premier League goal for Southampton in a 3-1 away win over Huddersfield.

 

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