Tim Sherwood tells Jack Grealish to 'go with his heart' in choice between Ireland and England
Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has told his FA Cup hero Jack Grealish that he should let his heart rule his head when he decides to commit to either the Republic of Ireland or England.
The 19-year-old played a part in both goals in Villa's 2-1 FA Cup semi-final victory over Liverpool and his performance has sparked a tug-of-war between the FAI and the English FA for his services.
Grealish declined interview requests after Villa’s victory at Wembley, but he suggested last month, albeit at an FAI awards night, that “hopefully next year I’ll be back in the green jersey”.
Reports across the water say that the English FA want to offer Grealish a place in this summer's U-20 tournament in Toulon with a view to getting him to switch allegiance although he would actually be unavailable for half of that competition due to Villa's commitment in the final.
Speaking on Talksport this morning, Tim Sherwood revealed that he encountered a similar situation during his time at Tottenham with Nabil Bentaleb.
Grealish has represented the Republic of Ireland at under-21 level but is yet to earn a senior cap and could still play for England.
He is on England Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate's radar but Sherwood wants Grealish to concentrate on Villa first.
He said: "It's up to Jack where he wants to go. It's purely up to him. What I've got to do is make sure he's got that decision to make. He must be doing something right for Aston Villa if he's got those options. That's my priority.
"Then it's up to Jack to decide where he wants to go. I had the same situation with Nabil Bentaleb, who could have played for France but decided to pick Algeria. I did have a chat with him and he asked me what to do. I just said, 'you've got to go with your heart. Do you think you're French or Algerian?'
"That's the decision he had to make and now Jack has got to make that decision. He has to play a few more times for Aston Villa before he needs to make that decision."
Sherwood handed Grealish his first league start in the 3-3 draw with QPR this month and the ex-Spurs boss insists he is not fazed by the responsibility.
"When some kids come and play with the first team sometimes, they're a bit overawed, but Jack's not," he told TalkSPORT.
"He receives the ball and dribbles it around people. They kick lumps out of him because he's so confident. The ball is his friend, it sticks to his foot. The more opportunities he gets, the better he's going to become."