Sunday 26 January 2020

Harry Arter frustrated by England switch rumours and fully committed to Irish cause

Harry Arter
Harry Arter

Miguel Delaney

Harry Arter is frustrated at the lack of playing time with Ireland, sources close to the player have told the Sunday Independent, but he remains fully committed to the set-up.

Questions about the Bournemouth midfielder's international intentions have dominated the build-up to tonight's World Cup qualifier away to Moldova, after rumours that he was on the verge of switching to England led to Martin O'Neill having to field questions on the issue after Thursday's win over Georgia, but all parties connected have dismissed the possibility.

FAI sources say the story is "groundless", and there hasn't even been informal contact from the FA, nor is there expected to be. The English governing body have not made any overtures to Arter's camp.

Even beyond that, though, those close to the player and the Irish camp say he has an "excellent" relationship with the squad and greatly enjoys his time away with the group. That is only deepened by the support he received from many in the Ireland set-up last year when going through tough times in his personal life with the death of his daughter - something that he has publicly stated in the past. Arter has, in the meantime, become a popular and prominent figure in the squad.

The one issue, however, is that it has not so far translated into prominence in the starting XI. Currently out with a hamstring problem, Arter has not yet played a competitive minute of football for Ireland, leaving open the technical possibility he could switch. He didn't appear in any of the Euro 2016 qualifiers, having initially been called up for the March 2015 home match against Poland, was ruled out of the tournament itself through injury, and then sat on the bench throughout September's 2-2 draw away to Serbia despite widespread expectation he would finally appear.

Sources close to the player say that has led to "frustration" that he is turning up and not appearing, but they see it as the itching of a professional desperate to play for the team, rather than the situation fuelling any desire to leave. Some who know Arter responded with incredulity at the idea. James McCarthy was asked about the rumour after the Georgia match and responded with genuine amazement, stating it's "the first I've heard about it".

Sunday Indo Sport

The Left Wing: Schools rugby special - 'The St Michael’s dream team are the side to beat'

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport