Thursday 18 July 2019

'That isn't to say I didn't want to play for Ireland but my heart is more in England' - Michael Keane urges in-demand Declan Rice to follow heart

Everton and England centre-half Michael Keane. Photo: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images
Everton and England centre-half Michael Keane. Photo: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Michael Keane has encouraged Declan Rice to pick the country that will give him the most satisfaction.

The England defender is well placed to consider the dilemma faced by the West Ham teenager.

Keane's father is Irish and he wore the green jersey at U-17 and U-19 level before making a binding switch to England where he progressed through the ranks.

Rice went much further down the road than Keane and had three senior caps to his name before a formal approach from England manager Gareth Southgate.

The Everton centre-half feels that dual eligibility players must go through the same decision-making process that he did before reaching a conclusion.

"I would say just go with your gut," said Keane. "At the end of the day international football is great to play but I think you get more pride out of playing for the country you really want to play for.

"That isn't to say I didn't want to play for Ireland but my heart is more in England.

"All my family are in England - my dad moved over when he was nine-years-old so we don't have much Irish family.

"I always wanted to play for England so I would say just speak to your family. It is not just about getting the experience at a young age, you have to enjoy representing the country you play for."

Ironically enough, Keane's twin brother Will has expressed an interest in playing for Ireland. He actually rejected calls from Ireland as a teen while his brother made the journey; the duo were both well regarded Manchester United youths at that juncture.

That decision has now left the forward player eligible for a switch, but the Hull City player has failed to capture the attention of Martin O'Neill.

Southampton's Michael Obafemi is the striker foremost in O'Neill's thoughts this week.

A competitive appearance against Denmark on Monday would tie the 18-year-old to the Irish cause.

Wolves full-back Matt Doherty has emerged as a doubt for the games with Northern Ireland and the Danes. He received a nasty cut above his eye from an accidental elbow in last Sunday's Premier League draw with Arsenal.

Instead of travelling to Dublin, Doherty went to see a specialist in England and the FAI are waiting on the results of that consultation.

Irish Independent

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