Harry Arter is ready to help the Republic of Ireland take a major step towards World Cup qualification as the midfielder again reaffirmed his commitment to the national side.  

Arter is in Martin O’Neill’s squad for the crucial World Cup 2018 qualifier against Austria in Vienna today and will be eager to make his first appearance in a competitive fixture. 

The midfielder has risen through the underage ranks for Ireland and while he has still yet to make his competitive debut for the senior team, he has been capped by them three times in friendlies.

His fine recent club form for Bournemouth and the quirk of him having yet to play in a competitive international game led to speculation last month that he could yet declare for England, something which Arter insists was never a possibility.

Speaking to  RTÉ Sport, the 26-year-old explained that his commitment to the Irish cause had never been in question and that he was as confused as everyone else by the story.

“I’m not too sure where it came from,” he said.

“I was in the cinema and I came out and had so many alerts on my phone from all different people, close friends and people that weren’t so close asking me what the situation was.

“I honestly looked at my phone thinking someone’s hacked my phone or someone’s been on it and put out a message that I don’t want to play for Ireland anymore.

“It was a strange sort of situation and one that I kind of laughed off in the end. It was one that I felt didn’t deserve me to come out and give some sort of answer to because it wasn’t something I created.

“For me it was a little bit silly and that’s why I chose to ignore it.

“I did take it as a compliment in the end because people were saying nice things.

“I think it was Paul Merson, that’s maybe where it could have come from and someone in the media put two and two together that I was pulled out of the squad and there was talk of England.”

Arter will hope to finally put any question over his international future to rest today with a start against Austria.

The midfielder believes that Ireland go into today’s game in an enviable position and that all the pressure will be on the hosts today following their draw with Wales and defeat to Serbia.

“Austria haven’t had the best of starts to the group so the pressure’s all going to be on them,” he said.

“We can go there with points on the board and good confidence from our last three games in the group.

“I think people underestimated Georgia quite a bit. There was a bit of negativity after that game but we picked up all three points and watched them play against Wales.

“On another day they could have beaten Wales, I watched that game and thought they were the better side.”

“Serbia away is another tough game, Austria found that out, so I think we’ve picked up some good results and definitely the pressure will be on them.”

Watch the full interview with Harry Arter as part of the build-up to Austria v Ireland live on RTÉ 2 from 4pm.