Wednesday 19 December 2018

Martin O'Neill calls up Declan Rice but admits youngster's international future is not confirmed

Declan Rice (main pic), Enda Stevens (top left), Kieran O'Hara (bottom left), Darragh Lenihan (top right) and Derrick Williams (bottom right)
Declan Rice (main pic), Enda Stevens (top left), Kieran O'Hara (bottom left), Darragh Lenihan (top right) and Derrick Williams (bottom right)
Martin O’Neill. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Declan Rice has received his first call into the Ireland senior squad for the friendly with Turkey on March 23.

The West Ham player is one of five new faces in Martin O'Neill's experimental 30-man panel. Blackburn duo Darragh Lenihan and Derrick Williams are also on the list along with Manchester United goalkeeper Kieran O'Hara and Sheffield United defender Enda Stevens.

Both Rice and O'Hara have trained with the first team in the past 12 months, but the U21 international duo are in the proper list this time around - although O'Neill may well trim his panel before travelling to Antalya.

There are also returns to the squad for Alan Judge (Brentford), Greg Cunningham and Alan Browne (both Preston) and the uncapped Matt Doherty (Wolves) and Liam Kelly (Reading).

Shane Long is the only outfield player over the age of 30 and he is one of three strikers named - Sean Maguire and Scott Hogan are the others.

Darren Randolph and Stephen Ward have been rested, with O'Hara vying for recognition alongside Colin Doyle, Rob Elliot and injury absentee Keiren Westwood.

O'Neill said that Rice will return to the Ireland Under-21 set up to face Azerbaijan a week after the Turkey match and admitted he could yet choose to play for England, his country of birth.

"I think that's a point worth mentioning. I would never take anything for granted. In my experience here, talking about young Grealish for instance," said O'Neill.

"He made a decision at a particular time. I accept that. When you're talking about Declan. This is still a friendly game and he still has his opportunity. I wouldn't presume anything at all until someone says this is exactly what I want to do. I would be hopeful that's the case.

"He's coming for us. He will come with us and wants to play in the U21 game, and happy for that to be the case."

Goalkeepers: Rob Elliot (Newcastle United), Colin Doyle (Bradford City), Kieran O'Hara (Manchester United), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday)

Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Declan Rice (West Ham United), John Egan (Brentford), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Kevin Long (Burnley), Alex Pearce (Derby County), Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams (Blackburn Rovers), Greg Cunningham (Preston North End), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United)

Midfielders: Alan Judge (Brentford), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), David Meyler (Hull City), Eunan O'Kane (Leeds United), Liam Kelly (Reading), Alan Browne, Daryl Horgan (Preston North End), James McClean (West Bromwich Albion)

Forwards: Shane Long (Southampton), Scott Hogan (Aston Villa), Sean Maguire (Preston North End)

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