Roy Keane explains why Ireland didn't 'tie down' Declan Rice and Jack Grealish 1 month ago

Roy Keane explains why Ireland didn't 'tie down' Declan Rice and Jack Grealish

"To me, they were always English."

Roy Keane has dismissed suggestions that the Republic of Ireland should have capped Declan Rice in a competitive game to "tie him down" to the country. Keane was Martin O'Neill's assistant manager when Rice was involved with the Ireland squad.

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Rice, 22, made three friendly appearances for the country in 2018 but switched to England, the nation of his birth, the following year. Ireland's loss has been England's gain.

The West Ham United midfielder has won 27 caps for Gareth Southgate's team and has developed into one of the best players in his position in the Premier League.

Roy Keane Declan Rice

Declan Rice and Ireland

Keane, however, has strongly rejected any suggestion that he and O'Neill made a mistake by not capping the player in a competitive game for Ireland.

In October 2017, Rice was an Ireland Under-21 international and was training with the senior squad for a World Cup qualifier against Moldova.

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The midfielder, then 18, could have been tied to Ireland had he appeared in the match. But he didn't make it into the matchday squad. Rice switched international allegiance to England just over a year later.

O'Neill always rejected suggestions that he should have capped the midfielder in a competitive game. Keane has now done likewise.

Roy Keane Declan Rice

Roy Keane: It would have been wrong to tie Rice to Ireland.

The former Manchester United captain, speaking at a fundraiser for Kerry Hospice on Friday night, dismissed the idea. He said that it wouldn't be fair for Ireland supporters to cap players early in their careers in order to prevent them from switching allegiance.

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Keane explained why Rice and Jack Grealish, who was also an Ireland underage international when O'Neill was senior manager, didn't appear in a competitive game for Ireland when they were eligible.

He said that it would be wrong to "throw out caps willy-nilly to tie players down" and that he felt Rice and Grealish "were always English."

Keane: Rice and Grealish "were always English."

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“Does anybody think that a player should be given a cap for Ireland to play so he doesn’t declare for another country?" Keane said on Friday night (quotes via The Irish Examiner).

"Well, that’s the wrong reason for somebody to play for Ireland.

"You can’t throw out caps willy-nilly to tie players down. I had Jack (Grealish) at Aston Villa and Declan was in our squad but to me, they were always English. It doesn’t mean that they couldn’t play for Ireland.

"I never had that feeling about them. You can’t bribe or blackmail players. It wasn’t a case of myself and Martin up in the room, saying ‘we’ll play them tomorrow so they’re stuck with us’.

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"That wouldn’t be fair on the people of Ireland. It’s the most stupid argument you can have."