Declan Rice's family want West Ham youngster to commit to Ireland
Martin O'Neill is refusing to give up hope on Declan Rice because members of the player's family have altered their view that he should accept a call from England.
The West Ham teenager is taking more time to consider his international future but he dominated the squad announcement for the double-header with Denmark and Wales.
That was because of a Sky Sports report which claimed that the player had opted to declare for England - and was ready to start a permanent transfer process.
O'Neill said he was "surprised" by that and it was later retracted by Sky to state that the player remained stuck in a dilemma.
That backed up the Irish manager's versions of events after discussions over the past month. It's the influence of Rice's family that is giving him encouragement; the player's father Sean wants his son to stay put.
"You know where his father stands on this," said O'Neill. "And I also think the rest of the family, the brothers.
"I think there might have been an initial feeling that they might have wanted to go to England at the time because they're born there and so is his dad. But I think those things have changed around."
"He just needs a wee bit more time," continued O'Neill. "I'm hopeful for the conversations that have taken place, and I know where his family would like him to be. I think the dad might be articulating some of the things that Declan is feeling."
O'Neill conceded that a contract impasse at West Ham and a change of agent might be a factor and said that he had spoken with Neil Fewings – Rice's new representative.
The Derryman did stress that Rice and his father had told him reports which suggested he was affected by Roy Keane's argument with the recalled Harry Arter were wrong.
O'Neill has admitted that Rice was present for part of the row but said he had witnessed a bigger argument in the West Ham dressing-room after their recent loss at Wolves.
"Declan's a strong character," said O'Neill. "Both he and his father were at great pains to say, 'No, not at all (it wasn't a factor)'"
Brighton boss Chris Hughton last night said he sympathised with Rice's position.
"There isn't anybody really that can make that decision for him," he said.
"What can happen is that close people around – your family, your club – can try and guide him.
"But everybody has different situations. What he is, is a very, very good young player that I like a lot.
"But as regards any decisions he could make, it's only him who can make those decisions.
"And I'm sure that whatever he does will be the right decision for him."