Thursday 15 November 2018

Martin O'Neill wants Harry Arter and Declan Rice back next month but reveals injury blow for Seamus Coleman

11 September 2018; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the International Friendly match between Poland and Republic of Ireland at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw, Poland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
11 September 2018; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the International Friendly match between Poland and Republic of Ireland at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw, Poland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Martin O'Neill confirmed he hopes to have Declan Rice and Harry Arter back in his squad for next month's UEFA Nations League games against Denmark and Wales in Dublin, as he hailed his back-up players after a spirited 1-1 draw in Poland.

Aiden O'Brien marked his international debut with a fine goal and while Mateusz Klich's late leveller denied O'Neill a chance to secure a morale boosting away win, the Ireland boss was proud of the effort of his players after a chaotic build-up dominated by the row between Arter and Keane.

Arter has opted to halt his international career while he considers whether to return to a set-up that still includes Keane, with the emergence of a WhatsApp audio message of defender Stephen Ward discussing the row between the duo piling pressure on the Ireland management duo, but O'Neill suggested he got the response he wanted from his players in Wroclaw.

"It was a brilliant effort by the players and we will step forward for the two games now next month," stated O'Neill. "It was a great effort and it was just disappointing that we didn't see it through."

Rice is considering his international options amid interest from England and Arter has decided to return to the Ireland set-up after his row with Keane, yet O'Neill was asked whether he expects the duo to return to his set-up next month.

"That would be nice (to have the duo back) and in an ideal world that would be terrific," he added. "I hope that will be the case. Confidence has been restored after this performance and we are ready to go in those games."

O'Neill went on to praise goal scorer O'Brien, as he suggested the Millwall forward had earned his chance on the international stage.

"It was nice that we got the goal and I thought there was some superb performances out there, notably young O’Dowda, but I have to say, on his debut, O’Brien did brilliantly for us," O’Neill told RTE Sport.

"I have seen a lot of him over the last couple of year and the one thing you will get from him is that old word, the shift. And today he tried to get hold of it, hold play up, giving us a little breather at times.

"He is brave and did exceptionally well today. I’m really pleased with him and I think he is pretty pleased as well."

O'Neill also confirmed captain Seamus Coleman missed the game due to a stress fracture in his foot and must now be a doubt for next month's crucial UEFA Nations League double header against Denmark and Wales.

"Seamus went for a scan, he has a little stress fracture, which is a concern," he added. "Seamus could easily have got a flight home, but he stayed with the team.

"He is a great captain, a really great captain. He is inspirational and obviously we hope he is back in time for the games coming up."

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