McCarthy issues Rice vow

23 December 2018 09:32:07 EST

Mick McCarthy has told West Ham starlet Declan Rice that he will build his Republic of Ireland team around him if he chooses to play for him.

Former Ireland boss Martin O'Neill had been desperately trying to convince the 19-year-old to stick with the birth nation of his father's parents as opposed to switching to England, where he was born.

Rice has featured in friendly fixtures for the Republic but opted out of their Nations League squad as he weighed up the possibility of switching allegiances to Gareth Southgate's Three Lions.

We start in March and that's my deadline I guess, I need to know by then. I'd like to build a team around him and he could be a future captain - he's that type of player.

Mick McCarthy

However, McCarthy has now confirmed that he recently held productive talks with Rice and is looking to select him for his squad ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifiers, which get under way in March.

The 59-year-old told Sky Sports' Goals on Sunday: "There was myself, [assistant manager] Robbie [Keane], Declan and his dad and it is just up to him what he wants to decide - that's how I've left it.

"It's not my decision as to whether he plays for the Republic of Ireland, it's my job - if he decides that he wants to stay with us - to pick him.

"I think he's a really talented player. I thought he was a lovely lad, he's got a really nice family behind him and he has everything about him that makes you want him to play for you. That's still my case, I want him to play for us.

"I'd love to build a team around him. We start in March and that's my deadline I guess, I need to know by then. I'd like to build a team around him and he could be a future captain - he's that type of player."

Ireland are 6/1 win Euro 2020 qualifying Group D, while Switzerland are priced at 10/11 and Denmark are 11/8

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