Thursday 29 September 2016

Kevin Grealish: Jack would probably get booed by both sets of fans if he played against England next month

John Fallon

Published 12/05/2015 | 21:56

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish has rejected a first senior Republic of Ireland call-up
Aston Villa's Jack Grealish has rejected a first senior Republic of Ireland call-up

Martin O'Neill was always going to be spurned by Jack Grealish yesterday, according to the player’s father and agent.

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Kevin Grealish admitted he was surprised to receive a phonecall from the Ireland manager yesterday morning to discuss the prospect of his son featuring against England next month.

Although appearing in the friendly wouldn’t have tied the 19-year-old to Ireland permanently, Grealish wasn’t prepared to countenance the proposition tabled by O’Neill.

Grealish Snr insists their vow of parking international football until September wasn’t in jeopardy by the Ireland boss dangling the tempting offer of senior action on June 7.

“We appreciated the call from Martin yesterday,” said Grealish Snr.

“It was nice of Martin to offer Jack a place in the squad but there was no way he was going to accept.

“I reiterated what we told Ireland U-21 manager Noel King last September.

“Jack is taking the year out to concentrate on Aston Villa and that decision has worked out well.

“It would be the same answer if England were to make an approach. We are being consistent on this.

“Aston Villa are still not safe from relegation. So all of Jack’s focus is on the final three Premier League games and then the FA Cup final on May 30.

“If the team had nothing to play for at this stage of the season, then we might have thought more about it. But now is not the time to be deciding on an international career.

“Although Jack has started the last six matches for Villa, he faces major competition for his place.

“The likes of Andreas Weimann and Scott Sinclair can’t even get in the Villa team right now. The side is playing so well and getting wins. Nothing can be a distraction to keeping his place.

“Had Jack taken up Martin’s invitation, the level of attention on him during the run-in would have been enormous.”

What certainly buried any prospect of Grealish answering Ireland’s call is the fact England were the team against whom his debut would come.

“Being English-born and having Irish relatives, Jack would probably get booed by both sets of fans if he played in their meeting next month,” said Kevin.

“Jack will complete the club season - hopefully with an FA Cup winners’ medal - before taking a break in the summer. Only after that will we sit down and assess the international situation.”

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