Declan Rice is not in Ireland‘s squad for the first game in the new UEFA Nations League against Wales in Cardiff on Thursday week.

There must now be serious doubts about Rice ever playing for Ireland competitively with England manager Gareth Southgate having made with the 19-year-old in recent weeks, trying to persuade him to join the English camp.

“I wouldn‘t be exaggerating to say that he‘s loved it. He‘s been brilliant for us at senior level in the games and – after the matches, the Turkey game where his father was out – it was a real joyous moment so in terms of selling, I think the Republic of Ireland have done just about everything to sell the country to him in that sense,” Martin O‘Neill said.

“He‘s been really welcomed by the players, welcomed by everybody, welcomed by the fans. I‘m not so sure what else we can do. If the country of his birth come calling then he‘s a choice to make.

“At this moment I haven‘t given him a deadline. I think he wants just a little bit more time to do this. It‘s not frustrating in the sense.

“Again I get back to the point that I respect his opinion and respect his choice and it is eventually the player‘s choice. It was the same with Jack Grealish eventually. Again, getting back to respecting that, that‘s it.

“He has loved playing for us, it‘s been great for him. We‘ve given him caps at senior level, albeit friendly games, he‘s taken that chance and been terrific. All of those things bring him into the England equation as well. The England manager has obviously seen the games he‘s played for us and thought, ‘Oh hold on‘ if I was the England manager and any young players were on the horizon, I‘d want to make sure I‘ve spoken with them before they would make a choice‘.”

After making his debut against Turkey in March, Rice suggested he was happy to remain a part of the set-up with the Republic.

Asked if he might have a change of heart, he replied: “Nothing. I‘ve come away, played in the game and loved every minute of it.

“I‘ve loved being around the team and at the moment I‘m fully focused on playing with Ireland.”

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The meeting with Wales in Cardiff in the newly-formed Nations League constitutes a competitive fixture and so, if Rice had played, he could then be tied to the Republic of Ireland for the remainder of his career.

A total of 31 players have been named with James McCarthy and Sean Maguire among the absentees through injury.

Veterans Glenn Whelan and Aiden McGeady are among the absentees.

There is a first senior call-up for goalkeeper Sean McDermott, who plays for Kristiansund BK in Norway‘s Eliteseruen. The 25-year-old qualifies through his Donegal-born father and has represented Ireland at Under-17, U-19 and U-21 level.

Preston North End forward Callum Robinson has received international clearance after obtaining an Irish passport through his Monaghan-born grandmother. He featured for an Ireland XI in the Scott Brown Testimonial in May.

“His paperwork has gone through to represent us competitively,” O‘Neill explained.

“I saw him recently against Norwich. He is a nice footballer. I will be encouraging him to take players on. That is what I want Robinson to do.”

Republic of Ireland Provisional Squad

Goalkeepers: Colin Doyle (Hearts), Sean McDermott (Kristiansund BK), Kieran O‘Hara (Macclesfield Town*), Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough)

Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Richard Keogh (Derby County), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Kevin Long, Stephen Ward (Burnley), John Egan, Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers), Greg Cunningham (Cardiff City)

Midfielders: Alan Judge (Brentford), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Shaun Williams (Millwall), David Meyler (Reading), Harry Arter (Cardiff City*), Daryl Horgan (Hibernian), Callum O‘Dowda (Bristol City), James McClean (Stoke City)

Forwards: Jonathan Walters (Burnley), Shane Long (Southampton), Graham Burke, Callum Robinson (Preston North End), Aiden O‘Brien (Millwall)

*Indicates player is on loan

Online Editors