Doherty indifferent to whether Rice opts for Ireland or England
Obafemi makes second first-team appearance for Southampton in a week
Declan Rice waves to the crowd in the Aviva Stadium during an Ireland friendly against the USA in June. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Wolves wing back Matt Doherty says he does not care whether Declan Rice opts to play for Ireland or England, with the Dubliner suggesting he is one of the few who has been taking next to no interest in the teenager’s ongoing deliberations.
“He’s obviously a very good player, and he would be an asset to the squad,” said the 26-year-old, whose side led Arsenal away for the best part of their game on Sunday before conceding a late equaliser. In an interview with Newstalk, he said it was Rice’s decision at the end of the day. “Whatever he chooses will be his choice, and everyone else will get on with it. He can choose either one. I’m not really that bothered.”
Doherty appeared to come through the game in north London without any problems, and should join up with the Ireland squad on Monday. However, Shane Long looks certain to miss out, with Southampton’s Mark Hughes having revealed after Saturday’s draw with Watford that the striker is likely to have a minor operation on his ankle that could keep him out for anything up to six weeks.
In his absence over the weekend, 18-year-old Michael Obafemi got on in the closing stages to make what was his second first-team appearance in the space of a week. Obafemi was also included last week in Martin O’Neill’s extended squad, and he seems likely to be brought in to train with the squad over the coming days.
His own international future is not yet resolved, with the player qualifying for both Nigeria and England, and Hughes said in advance of Saturday’s game that he remained unsure of who the young player would ultimately declare for. However, O’Neill suggested when naming the squad that Obafemi’s preference was to stick with Ireland.
Callum Robinson made it six goals in 10 appearances for Preston on Saturday, with the 23-year-old getting what proved to be his side’s winner at Bristol City. Conor Hourihane was the other Irish goalscorer of note, with the Corkman getting Aston Villa’s third in a 3-0 win at Derby.
Seamus Coleman, meanwhile, helped Everton to a clean sheet and secure a point at Chelsea, but there was still no sign of James McCarthy who, O’Neill had suggested, had hoped to be named in the international squad.