Bournemouth midfield star Harry Arter catches Ireland manager's eye
BOURNEMOUTH midfield prospect Harry Arter may have talked and played his way into Martin O'Neill's plans following a chance encounter in the car park at Craven Cottage.
Strolling towards his car in the company of Harry Redknapp, O'Neill was introduced to Arter by the QPR boss just a few weeks after he watched him play.
A key man in Bournemouth's unlikely but impressive Premier League push, Arter has Irish grandparents and played in green at Under 17 and 19 level.
Clearly, the Ireland manager liked what he saw last Friday night when he watched him in the flesh.
"His enthusiasm was very strong and he's performing regularly for a side chasing promotion. I'd seen him play but this was the first time I met him," said O'Neill.
"He's a really nice little footballer. I spoke to his manager and while he might not have been overly pleased with his performance on Friday night, he's been doing exceptionally well. He has a strong ambition to play for the Republic."
O'Neill is also working on further Granny-rule recruits and although he refused to name names, it would seem as if he is chasing a big prize.
"Some eligible to play for us are starting to make a bit of an impression. I don't want to mention names, in case it all falls apart. But lads are coming in as genuine contenders and not making up numbers."
O'Neill is very aware of the fact that many Irish players still struggle with game time which gives Arter an immediate advantage.
With that in mind, he offered some advice for the last hours of the January window without straying into interference in a club manager's business.
"If I was a club manager and picked this up today and read that an international manager was telling me that two of my players needed to be shifted because they won't get into the side, I'd be really peeved."
In the most immediate sense, O'Neill is looking towards March 29 and Poland.
"Players need to play. It is difficult to be considering players that might not have played for three or four weeks. The players themselves would realise that. There is always possibility of some sort of loan. It is important that for a game of such significance (Poland) that some playing time went on before hand.
"If you're not getting a look in at club level and it seems obvious from a distance that the manager doesn't really fancy you and you want to play, you have to consider at least a loan if you don't want to sever your ties with the club.
"But I am only saying something they already know. I don't really want to put that sort of pressure on players."