Tuesday 6 December 2016

Jack Grealish to make final call on international future next month

John Fallon

Published 22/08/2015 | 02:30

After missing the first two games of the season with hamstring trouble, the teenager is back in the Villa squad for today’s Premier League visit to Crystal Palace.
After missing the first two games of the season with hamstring trouble, the teenager is back in the Villa squad for today’s Premier League visit to Crystal Palace.

Jack Grealish has held talks with England manager Roy Hodgson and will make a decision on his international future by the end of September.

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The Aston Villa winger, who has represented Ireland up to U-21 level, is at the centre of a tug-of-war as England have intensified their interest.

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill earlier this week described recent discussions with the player and his father Kevin, along with leading agent David Manasseh, as "fruitful".

However, his offer to fast-track the Aston Villa winger into his squad for the double-header against Gibraltar and Georgia in a fortnight seems a non-runner as the youngster deliberates over his dilemma.

Grealish's father last night confirmed talks were held with both nations but the eventual decision will be made by the player himself.

"Jack will be 20 next month and is well able to decide for himself which country to play for," he said last night. "David and I were at the meetings but we'll have no role in the outcome.

"As was the case at last year's meeting, we were very impressed by Martin O'Neill. He'd like to have Jack in his squad but he's not putting any pressure on him.

"It's a big decision - much bigger than anything at club level. Contracts may last for last for four years but declaring for a country is for life."

Last September, Grealish requested a year-long break from international football after earning his sixth Ireland U-21 cap against Germany.

That stance attracted criticism of disloyalty to the Irish cause and his arrival on the Premier League scene under Tim Sherwood in the second half of last season only led to suspicions he was poised to defect. Hodgson has made no secret of his admiration for the player in public and has now done so face-to-face.

Under FIFA's eligibility rules, once Grealish appears for England in a competitive game, U-21 or senior level, he cannot switch back to Ireland.

After missing the first two games of the season with hamstring trouble, the teenager is back in the Villa squad for today's Premier League visit to Crystal Palace.

He came through an U-21 match against Derby County on Monday unscathed with Sherwood yesterday indicating that Grealish will feature at Selhurst Park.

Meanwhile, Ireland U-21 international Tommie Hoban has signed a four-year deal to commit his future to Watford.

The defender was a big part of their successful promotion from the Championship last term but he is still waiting for a Premier League debut after a raft of summer signings.

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