Saturday 16 December 2017

West Ham's Mark Noble reveals how he has turned down advances from the FAI

West Ham United's Mark Noble
West Ham United's Mark Noble

John Fallon

West Ham United captain Mark Noble has ruled out declaring for Ireland, revealing he’s already spurned approaches from the FAI.

Despite captaining England through the underage ranks up to U-21 level, the lack of a senior call-up has left open the possibility of him defecting to Ireland.

Noble is eligible through his grandparents and is related to Albert Clarke, the retired former vice-chairman of the Dublin District Schoolboys’ League.

Following his appointment in late 2013, Martin O’Neill admitted his interest in acquiring the services of Noble.

It’s understood enquiries were made through third parties and the player himself opted against dismissing the possibility when he’d last spoken about his international situation 18 months ago.

However, in an interview ahead of the Hammers’ FA Cup sixth-round tie at Manchester United on Sunday, the Londoner torpedoed the notion, claiming he wouldn’t feel right in snatching the place of a fully-committed Irish player in O’Neill’s senior squad.

“I have a chance of playing for Ireland - I’ve been approached and asked,” he told The Times. “My nan and grandad are full Irish. But there are full Irish boys out there who would love to play for Ireland, like me with England.

“I wouldn’t put myself into something I wasn’t fully committed to. I wouldn’t want to take that chance off a full Irish player.

“I’m patriotic and I’d love to play for England. I played England U-15 to U-21. A lot of people are talking about me and England. If it happens, it happens.

“It (lack of a call-up) doesn’t get me down. If I’m out on holiday (during the Euros) and the game is on, then I’ll watch England for sure. But it will be difficult.

“I know a lot of the boys personally. I know they really care about the country, they want to win, they have feelings and it’s not nice when they get dug out if things go wrong.”

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