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Grealish sets sights on senior call-up from O'Neill in summer

HE HAS scored a point at Croke Park for his county but now the goal for Jack Grealish is to be a success in a different code with club and country.

Only 18 years old, Grealish is the baby of the side in the current Ireland U21 team but the gifted midfielder is also one of the bright hopes of Irish football, as he showed with some superb touches for the U21s in their midweek defeat by Montenegro in the European Championship qualifiers.

Currently on loan to League One strugglers Notts County from Aston Villa, Grealish has been mentioned in dispatches by Martin O'Neill and he has also been the subject of debate at international level, with the English FA making an attempt to lure Grealish back to the England camp recently. It was an offer Grealish refused.

Making the grade with Villa and the Ireland senior team are the long-term aims, but the Brummie lad has talents in other areas, as he had a promising career in Gaelic football in his native England.

"I got a point for Warwickshire when we got to play in Croke Park a while back," says Grealish, due to feature for Notts County against Orient today, a game the Magpies need to win to move off the bottom of the League One table.

"I loved GAA, I played from when I was eight up to 14. We had won a tournament over in England so we got invited over to play in Croke Park, it was at half-time during a senior game. I can't remember who was in the senior game but I know I scored a point and my dad was delighted with that," added Grealish, who qualified for Ireland as his father is from Dublin.

He has been talked about for some time now in England and Villa thought enough of the player to name him on the bench for a Premier League game two seasons ago when he was just 16.

KEY

He has also been sought-after at international level, hence England's bid to bring him into their fold, but he remains committed to Ireland and while a senior call-up may be in the future, he will be a key figure for the U21 side in their next campaign after the current qualifying group ended for Ireland with Wednesday's defeat.

Villa have sent Grealish out on loan to learn some more about football and with Notts County struggling at the bottom of the third tier, it's been a case of harsh lessons.

"It is hard and it's very different to reserve team football in the Premier League. It changes your approach to the game when you are playing competitive football, scrapping for points and I have come on leaps and bounds since I went to Notts County," added Grealish.

"Long-term, the aim is to do well with Ireland and Villa. It was very flattering to hear Martin O'Neill speak about me recently and that's a sign that I am doing something right. It was good to hear he knows who I am, Martin was first-team manager at Villa when I was on the books there, but there's no way he would have known who I was.

"I was a season ticket holder when I was four and then I joined Villa when I was six and have been there all along," he added.

"I would love to play for the senior team and with all the games they have lined up for the summer it could happen, but for now I am just enjoying every game and every cap with the U21s."


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