McCarthy and FAI confident over Rice decision
The FAI are confident of edging England in the race to earn Declan Rice's international allegiance after new Ireland manager Mick McCarthy met with the West Ham United player this week.
McCarthy made it a priority upon taking the job three weeks to sit down for the talks with the 19-year-old who has become the subject of a tug-of-war over the past year.
Rice dropped a bombshell on previous manager Martin O'Neill by making himself unavailable for the Nations League game against Wales in September.
Despite representing Ireland from U-16 to U-21 level, and winning three caps in friendlies this year, the Londoner left open the option of switching by avoiding a competitive outing.
Once McCarthy took over three weeks ago, he took less than 24 hours to phone Rice's father, Sean, whose parents were born in Cork.
That paved the way for the meeting which was held in London earlier this week.
Were Rice to follow the lead of Jack Grealish by ditching Ireland, he would need to make his application to FIFA immediately to be eligible in time for England's first qualifier against Czech Republic in March.