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Ireland coach O'Neill: I wanted to play West Ham's Rice in midfield

Republic of Ireland coach Martin O'Neill admits he wanted to play West Ham defender Declan Rice in midfield this week.

Rice is now considering committing himself to England, while O'Neill insists the row between his No2 Roy Keane and Cardiff City midfielder Harry Arter had nothing to do with the youngster.

"I don't know where you got the line that the young lad interfered in the discussion. That is totally and utterly untrue," said O'Neill.

"There isn't an ounce of truth in it. I'm actually pleased that you have asked me the question, it gives me the chance to knock it on the head.

"Rice is a totally different situation. I would dearly like young Rice to play for us and I'm giving him a bit of time. Rice was talked to by England and I don't see how that couldn't affect a young kid born in that country.

"It's a totally different issue. Rice would have been pretty well certain to start in midfield for us (v Wales), I don't think Harry was a certainty," added O'Neill.

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Paul Vegas

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