Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews has outlined that he would welcome Declan Rice back to the Boys in Green should the 20-year-old midfielder decide to declare for Mick McCarthy’s side.
Rice has been involved in an international tug-of war between Ireland and England since he was left out of Martin O’Neill’s squad in August of last year, but appears to be close to finally making a decision.
The West Ham midfielder outlined that he had met with both McCarthy and English manager Gareth Southgate and has been in tremendous form for the Hammers in the Premier League this season.
Irish fans will be pining for a Rice return with the midfielder already appearing three times for the Boys in Green and Keith Andrews outlined that he would welcome the young player back should he choose Ireland.
Speaking at the launch of the 2019 SPAR FAI Primary School 5s programme launch on Monday, Andrews explained that although he was angry at Rice’s decision at the time, he has come to understand his situation from a former professionals point of view.
“When it first happened, a good percentage of me was filled with anger. He had played with the underage squads, and I watched his development closely and I thought very highly of him.
“I wasn’t too surprised at how quickly he adapted to international football. That anger has decreased over the last few months as I’ve taken a step back and looked at it from his point of view.
“What he’s gone through at club-level, contract negotiations, being English-born. Difficult scenario. So if he decides to come back in, I’ll give him a big kiss. I’d be delighted. He would revolutionise the team. He’s really that good.
Rice has been one of the standout young players in the Premier League this season and his performances have reportedly caught the eye of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, who could be in the market for a long term replacement for Fernandinho.
Andrews feels that City should go all out to buy Rice, such is the quality of the 20-year old midfielder.
“He is being linked with Man City for £50 million: if I was Man City I’d buy him. He is that good, that mature; he is like an old pro at the age of 20. So hopefully he comes back.”
The SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme was officially launched today by former Republic of Ireland International Keith Andrews and current Republic of Ireland Women’s International Megan Campbell. Over 35,000 boys and girls from 4th, 5th and 6th class are expected to take part in this fun and inclusive nationwide programme.
Register for the SPAR5s by February 15th at www.fai.ie/primary5