Liam Lawrence: ‘If anyone can turn Declan Rice’s head, Mick McCarthy can’

It was seven years ago that Liam Lawrence expressed his reservations about players like Jermaine Pennant and Jamie O’Hara “juggling” between declaring for Ireland and England.

Liam Lawrence: ‘If anyone can turn Declan Rice’s head, Mick McCarthy can’

It was seven years ago that Liam Lawrence expressed his reservations about players like Jermaine Pennant and Jamie O’Hara “juggling” between declaring for Ireland and England.

Lawrence was himself a dual eligibility player, hailing from Retford, near Nottingham but qualifying to play for Ireland through his Kerry-born grandfather.

What he couldn’t understand was why players had to make such a meal of deciding one way or the other.

And that impatience has surfaced again as he contemplates the protracted wait for either white or green smoke from Declan Rice.

“There were certain players in the past that have done a similar sort of thing and I just think, ‘make your mind up and just get it done’,” he says.

“If you want to go and play for England, then say it, don’t hang on and keep people waiting. I thought he (Rice) was going to be an Irish player, I thought he’d pledged his allegiance in that respect. But he is a fantastic player and if he does come to us that will be a massive boost.”

To that extent, Lawrence fully understands why Mick McCarthy has followed Martin O’Neill’s example by leaving the door open to the rising West Ham star.

“He’s a fantastic talent and if anyone can turn his head, Mick can. When I was signing for Sunderland, I had a meeting with Mick. He was so authoritative and brilliant that it made my mind up within five minutes. Fingers crossed he can do it.”

Lawrence reckons that McCarthy’s decision to bring Robbie Keane to his recent meeting with Rice underlines the importance the manager is attaching to the quest.

“Robbie Keane is a legend and I don’t ever use that word lightly. He’s an Irish legend so to have gone and met him shows the importance of Rice. As a captain, Robbie was brilliant. He was really good, the one everybody looked up to in the dressing room. Even the likes of Richard Dunne and Duffer.

“Once us, below them, saw that, then we followed suit. He was good on the pitch vocally, good around the training ground and the hotel.

“He was fantastic.”

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