Tuesday 25 June 2019

McCarthy believes Keane should extend an 'olive branch' to Arter in row

Mick McCarthy. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Mick McCarthy. Photo: Brian McEvoy

John Fallon

Mick McCarthy knows a thing or two about Roy Keane causing chaos in an Irish camp, but he wants his former arch nemesis to play his part in bringing Harry Arter back into the set-up.

Martin O'Neill will be without the bustling midfielder for tonight's Nations League opener in Wales, but not through injury or suspension.

The 28-year-old, like fellow Londoner Declan Rice, is unavailable for off-field reasons, in his case primarily down to a row with Keane back in May. McCarthy was at the helm when the most explosive argument in the history of Irish sport erupted in the build-up to the 2002 World Cup. As is the case now, Keane was an active participant.

"I think you have to try to get the best players on the pitch," said McCarthy, who managed his country between 1996 and 2002. "Everybody is going to scream 'hold on, what about the 2002 World Cup when you sent Roy Keane home?' However, I did invite him back - the offer was there. That was me knowing that it was almost like the weight of the people that wanted him back. I had to offer that olive branch.

"I don't want to bring that case up again because it was all dragged out during the summer when the World Cup came around. Blah, blah, blah, it was bull***t.

"But I'm talking about having the best players on the pitch for Ireland and I don't know what Harry's argument was about."

Where McCarthy doesn't reckon Martin O'Neill and Keane need to get their act together is the case of Rice.

He will also be absent tonight on account of stalling his international career to consider a switch to his homeland of England.

The Barnsley-born ex-Ireland captain has sympathy with the player's dilemma, particularly after England finally reconnecting with their public at the World Cup.

"Declan is a good player - I tried to sign him on loan at Ipswich Town - and I understand why he's taking his time," said the 59-year-old former Irish skipper, who declared through his late father Charlie.

"If Gareth Southgate has been in his earhole, saying he can come into the England team alongside the likes of John Stones and Harry Maguire, well then that's a powerful argument.

"Declan is not going to make it easy for himself if he decides to come back, but he's a youngster. So let him make his decision.

"We should be trying to encourage him to come back, not let any outside influences take him elsewhere," added McCarthy, who has joined Virgin Media Sport's punditry team.

Irish Independent

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