Saturday 3 December 2016

'The choice is with the player: O'Neill responds to rumour that Harry Arter will declare for England as online reports gather steam

Published 07/10/2016 | 07:46

Ireland got the result they wanted last night at the Aviva Stadium - if not the performance - as an unusual goal from Seamus Coleman gave the Boys in Green all three points against an impressive Georgia side.

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The result leaves Ireland in fourth place in their World Cup qualification group but level on points with the three teams ahead of them, with a trip to Moldova on Sunday night giving Martin O'Neill's men a good opportunity to add another three points to their tally.

Read more: Some quick thinking from a Georgia player could have saved Robbie Brady from an even more serious injury

The Ireland boss was forced to answer many questions about the team's lackluster performance in the post-match press conference, but also had to address one burgeoning online rumour.

In-form Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter has been capped three times for Ireland but has yet to represent the team in a competitive international, meaning that the England-born player could theoretically change his international allegiance to his birth country.

While there have been no suggestions from Arter that he is considering declaring for England, the prospect was still put to O'Neill.

"That's news to me," he said to journalists.

"I've no idea. He hasn't played a competitive game for us, so the choice is entirely with the player."

Arter is currently suffering from a slight groin issue, and with Jeff Hendrick ruled out of Sunday's game in Moldova, and Robbie Brady likely to miss out too, it will be interesting to see if Arter is parachuted into the starting line-up, which would finally put the issue to bed.

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