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Thursday 24 January 2019

Rice will be my main man

Declan Rice. Photo: Reuters
Declan Rice. Photo: Reuters

Mick McCarthy remains hopeful that he beat Gareth Southgate in the race to secure the services of Declan Rice.

And the Ireland boss, who met Rice and the player's family last month, says he wants to build his team around the Hammers star as his midfield anchorman.

Rice, capped three times at senior level by Ireland, has been absent from Irish duty since June as he makes a final decision on his international allegiance, Rice stating this week that he would make a call "soon".

Southgate has offered Rice an England career and he has spoken to McCarthy about the player but McCarthy said in Dublin last night he had not given up hope.

"I'd like a decision at some stage. December's gone, we're into January, it will come around pretty quick. But there's no worries with him. It's not like we have to change him over from one to the other," McCarthy said at the SWAI annual banquet, the Irish boss encouraged by his meeting with Rice.

"I thought it was positive at the time. There were no negative vibes.

"I spoke to Gareth, he saw him as a centre-back. I want him playing in the position he is now at West Ham, for now and see where he develops.

"I said to him, I'm looking to build a team around him from March onwards. If it's an emotional decision - he's played three games for us - he does not have to make a switch to come to us."

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