O’Neill ‘hoping for reconciliation’ between Keane and Arter

Ian Watson

Martin O’Neill has not given up hope of having Declan Rice, Harry Arter and Seamus Coleman back for what he admits may be a must-win Nations League double-header next month.

The Republic of Ireland boss had to do without all three for Tuesday night’s 1-1 friendly draw in Poland, with Rice considering overtures from England, Arter having made himself unavailable after a training ground row with assistant boss Roy Keane – read all about that here – and Coleman out with a stress fracture to his foot.

However, he is hoping to have some of that trio at his disposal as Denmark and Wales head for Dublin in October, with injured duo Robbie Brady and James McCarthy also making progress.

Having revealed after the game in Wroclaw that he was keeping his fingers crossed over Coleman, O’Neill said when asked about a possible reconciliation between Arter and Keane: “As I already mentioned, I think there is every possibility of a reconciliation and I’m just hoping that will materialise.”

On Rice, who has three caps to his name, but is yet to make a competitive appearance for Ireland, O’Neill was circumspect with England counterpart Gareth Southgate having also made his interest known.

He said: “I don’t know any more than you do at this particular juncture. Honestly, genuinely don’t. There’s no point in me commenting here positively or negatively until I get to talk to the people again.”

Ireland will at least head into the October fixtures buoyed by a much-improved display against the Poles after Mateusz Klich denied them victory by cancelling out debutant Aiden O’Brien’s 53rd-minute header at the death.

That game came five days after a 4-1 drubbing in Wales which left them on the back foot in their Nations League campaign.

O’Neill said: “Considering the situation and there are only four games in the group, I think you’d have to try and win both games if we could.

“It won’t be easy, but if we have couple of players back, that again will give us an added boost.

“But the players in there are delighted, they’re buzzing. They’re disappointed, naturally, with the concession of the goal late on.

“It would have been nice to have come here and actually won the game in Poland regardless of it being a friendly game.”