John Giles would not only welcome Declan Rice back into the fold but would put him straight into the Irish team.
As the West Ham player continues to deliberate on his international future, Irish legend Giles says it would be a significant boost if he was available for next month’s Nations League games against Denmark and Wales.
“Tomorrow, I’d have him back tomorrow,” he said yesterday. “And put him in the team? Definitely. The young lad is only 19. He’s entitled to do what he is doing and what is best for his future. Of course we are not happy here as Irish people when he is turning us down but if you or I had a son in his position, then you would have to take everything into consideration.
I don’t blame him for doing that. I hope, like everybody else, that he comes and plays for us because he’s a terrific player. But if he decides to do something else then you have to go with it. It’s his future and his life and that’s the decision that he has to make.
On the other big off the field story dominating the headlines — Roy Keane’s row with Harry Arter — Giles is of the view that the assistant manager clearly overstepped the mark.
“I think it would be only common sense to say that of course he did. If Arter has said that he does not want to be picked because of the clash that he had with Roy Keane, well, that cannot be good. This is a player who could be a valuable player for us and you don’t want any players pulling out because of controversial circumstances.
“That was not a footballing matter. That was Roy having a go, from what we believe, in what was a medical situation. From what I can gather in the Ireland set-up, the players have to obey the medical team. And the medical team said, I think, on the particular day that they were not to train. Roy might not have got that information, that’s the only thing that I can think of, and then did what he thought was the right thing to do. It turned out that it wasn’t.”
While accepting that Martin O’Neill is under pressure on a number of fronts, Giles insists that it’s what happens on the pitch which counts.
Speaking as a Stella Maris old boy, as the club announced a new partnership with the Dublin Port Company, he said, “I’m not going to say that the end game is upon us, of course, that’s a reality but the results can also go well and that changes things completely. Look at the game over the years and you see managers under pressure. Look at Roy Hodgson last season at Palace and he did not win a game in his first seven in charge but finishes a hero when the season ends. That’s football.
“But you are better to be in a position where you can afford to lose a few games, there’s no doubt about that, and Martin is not in that position now. That’s the reality.”