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Villa boss sorry that Jack's not Scottish


Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish

PAUL LAMBERT says he will support any decision made by Aston Villa prospect Jack Grealish on his international future.

The 18-year-old (below), who is expected to make his first start for Villa in tonight's Capital One Cup clash with Leyton Orient, is at the centre of a fight for his services.

He has already played for Ireland at underage level, winning five U21 caps, and has been named in the Irish U21 squad for a European Championship qualifier away to Germany next week. U21 boss Noel King says Grealish is content to stay with the Ireland U21s for now.

But former Villa boss Martin O'Neill says he decided against naming the midfielder in the senior Ireland squad this time around to give Grealish time to consider his options, as England are keen to recruit the Birmingham native.

Lambert, aware that his assistant at Villa Roy Keane has a vested interest in the outcome, says he will back the player - with just a regret that Grealish is not eligible for Lambert's native Scotland.

"If he was Scottish I'd make sure to get him up (the) road to Scotland. I don't make rules or get involved so I'll leave it up to the lad himself, whatever he chooses I'll back it. He has to try to hang on to my squad in the first team," says Lambert.

"It's up to Jack what to do and to decide what country. He's done okay but has miles to go in the game.

"It is a great problem for him to have. I could be sitting here talking to you and saying I am releasing him. So I would rather have this kind of problem.

"It will be a long road to be a right top player, but at this minute in time he is doing alright."

The 18-year-old is in line for his full debut in tonight's cup tie, having been denied a run-out in last week's Premier League draw with Newcastle United,

"I was going to put him on on Saturday then Aly Cissokho got hurt - but I don't have a problem throwing him in.

"He's grown up in League One. That's a big thing, he's grown up in a man's environment," Lambert added.