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FAI expect Rice to stay with Ireland after upbeat talks with McCarthy



Declan Rice. Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Rice. Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Rice. Photo: Sportsfile

The FAI are confident that Declan Rice will opt to continue his international career with Ireland following a positive meeting with Mick McCarthy earlier this week.

Senior officials within the association believe that London-born Rice is prepared to commit his future to the country he has represented all the way through the underage ranks. Rice won three senior caps under Martin O'Neill earlier this year before stalling when it came to making a competitive appearance.

Gareth Southgate made a pitch to the teenager during the summer that turned his head. A change of agent and an uncertain contractual position at West Ham were also factors in his delay with owner David Gold stressing a preference for Rice going with England.

However, his father Sean wants the player to remain with Ireland and was contacted by McCarthy immediately after his appointment.

Rice confirmed he was open to a meeting with McCarthy who made it clear that he would also use Robbie Keane in negotiations. The discussions went well and it's now expected that Rice will stay put.

O'Neill did fear that Rice was lost at one stage but before his departure from the post last month, the Derryman was positive that the midfielder would be on board for the Euro 2020 campaign. His presence would be a significant boost to McCarthy.

Meanwhile, O'Neill has given his first interview since his departure from the Irish post and mounted a defence of his own record in response to suggestions he is out of touch with the modern game.

"When you don't talk about your philosophy or use words like project, you get labelled old-fashioned," said O'Neill. "I'm certainly not that.

"Let's put it this way, the game has changed. There's some aspects that have changed greatly, but there are also some aspects that remain the same.

"We all know these buzzwords, but they seem to be necessary to be fashionable. The fact that I didn't project those words, because I felt that the football language should be reasonably simple [counted against him].

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"You know, there was some criticism in Ireland that I did not have a plan. We qualified for the Euros and reached the knockout stage for the first time.

"In the history of the World Cup and the European Championships put together, Ireland have qualified six times for those tournaments. I've been one of them. I don't think you could do that without a plan and strategy. You cannot do that without guile as a manager, tactics and a plan."

Ireland defender Matt Doherty was critical of O'Neill's methods, and duly received a call from the manager who was deeply unhappy.

Doherty also spoke in slightly dismissive terms about what assistant Roy Keane brought to the equation and the Corkman is also understood to be furious with the Wolves defender.

Keane has returned to the media circuit in the last week and spoke in scathing terms about the modern-day player in the aftermath of Jose Mourinho's sacking.

"The modern player - they're not just weak players, they're very weak human beings. You can't say a word to them.

"I know the game has changed a little bit but the players really do get away with murder," said Keane.

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