MARTIN O'Neill has asked for Aston Villa starlet Jack Grealish to be given time and space and urged against any pressure being put on the Republic of Ireland Under-21 coveted by England.
"I really do not want to pressurising. I would like people to come to their own decision," said O'Neill at the announcement of an extended squad for the upcoming games against Oman and Georgia.
Asked whether Roy Keane now finds himself in a difficult position, sharing a training ground with Grealish (pictured) as Villa's No.2, O'Neill disagreed. "He (Keane) has been impressed with him, but the young lad is forcing his way into the team. I thought it was obviously encouraging from his viewpoint that Aston Villa should choose to put him on, as first sub, with 20 minutes to go, opening day of season when they are hanging on to something.
"But I don't think it puts Roy in awkward position, I think obviously he will do his best but I want the decision to come from the players themselves."
Earlier, O'Neill confirmed that he spoken with Grealish and his father, Kevin. The English FA have been pushing to recruit Villa's hot midfield prospect and the Ireland senior boss clearly likes what he has seen. "He's a talented lad and he's got taller and stronger in the last couple of months," said O'Neill.
Speaking in more general terms about the availability of young blood, O'Neill dangled a tantalising hint that players other than Grealish are also close to declaring. "I have never been frightened before to throw younger players into games. Without going into great detail, one or two younger players that I would be interested in taking, who are not actually born here in Ireland, have decisions to make.
"And the last thing I want to do is force things at this minute, particularly if they are relatively delicate."
O'Neill confirmed that Robbie Keane will remain Ireland captain for the foreseeable future. "I'm not in a process of changing that.
"When he's there, and on the field of play, I didn't see any reason to change it. He has a good influence on the field and has been very good off it too and he's been fine. There will be a time, hopefully not for a while, where he will have to think about it."