Declan Rice defection 'no surprise' to Mick McCarthy

Ruben Hill
March 3, 2019

"Yes, I could have (built a team around him) and I have to tell you he might just be sweating seeing Sean Longstaff playing at Newcastle, I have to tell you, because there's going to be a few coming through for England", added McCarthy when asked about his previous comments that he could build a team around Rice.

McCarthy, who attended the FAI's launch of the "Club Ireland" ticket membership scheme at the Aviva Stadium yesterday, revealed he had a fair idea two months ago that Rice would end his global career with the Republic for their cross-channel neighbours.

Rice announced earlier this month that he was transferring his Federation Internationale de Football Association registration from the Republic of Ireland to the country of his birth.

"He told me it was an honour to play for Ireland but I didn't want to hear it", the Ireland manager said.

McCarthy met Rice and some of his family in January and later told reporters of a "positive" meeting.

"I was talking at that level (last month) because I had a small hope he was actually going to stay with us".

"But I'd known for two months that he wasn't joining us, all I needed was it confirmed". He full well knows now that I've been doing my damnedest to meet him.

"I didn't think for one minute he was going to join us", McCarthy stated.

Who knows? I don't rule out anything, except playing him in nets, maybe.

The Ireland manager gave details of the phone call when Rice called McCarthy to inform him of the decision.

"I'm only guessing at that, I'm putting myself in his shoes".

The 19-year-old made three appearances for Ireland, but none were competitive fixtures.

"He'd other people in his family who wanted him to continue to play for Ireland so maybe that made it a bit more hard. So, I sent him a nice text to wish him good luck". "I just wanted you to confirm it", McCarthy said.

The worldwide landscape and culture of top-level football has changed immeasurably since McCarthy last held the Republic of Ireland reins (1996 to 2002).

The former Ipswich boss outlined that although he hasn't picked a captain yet, there is no reason why, provided he plays, it wouldn't be the Everton man.

Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy has been frustrated in his efforts to recruit Patrick Bamford and Nathan Redmond - and is yet to speak to either player.

"I haven't spoken to anyone who has said "we have been scouting him and he has been knocking goals in and he has been brilliant", he says of Amond.

Speaking at the launch of the FAI's new "Club Ireland" ticket scheme at the Aviva, McCarthy said: "I think it's a blow for Ireland going forward in terms of longevity, (not having) a player like that who has played very well in the Premier league". I've no idea. It could have been "I'll see how I continue going, I'll see how I play for West Ham, I'll see if I stay in the team, I'll see how much interest there is within England". "I don't want to talk about him or the situation because he's not my player and we're going around in circles".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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