Former Republic of Ireland international Jason McAteer has claimed that Roy Keane is to blame for Declan Rice's withdrawal from the Irish set-up.

Rice, who has been capped for Ireland in friendlies, but crucially not in a competitive game, is still free to switch his allegiances to his native England.

English manager Gareth Southgate is understood to have spoken to Rice about switching to England and his club chairman David Gold has actively encouraged the midfielder to declare for the country of his birth.

Rice is officially taking time to deliberate on his future but McAteer claims that a row between Ireland assistant manager Keane and Harry Arter, which led to Arter withdrawing from the squad, is to blame for Rice's exit.

McAteer and Keane were international team-mates until the Cork man's acrimonious departure from the Irish World Cup squad in 2002 and the pair subsequently clashed on the pitch while representing Manchester United and Sunderland.

McAteer said: "Roy was a great player, but I'm surprised John Delaney in the FAI allowed him back as assistant manager after what happened in 2002.

"Declan was privy to the incident between Roy and Harry Arter in May and was put off by the whole experience.

"Roy is a destructive influence in the camp."