Sunday 18 March 2018

Given hopes to keep Grealish in green

Jack Grealish is yet to decide on his international future
Jack Grealish is yet to decide on his international future

Republic of Ireland veteran Shay Given is convinced starlet Jack Grealish is ready to play senior international football now.

The 18-year-old Aston Villa midfielder is currently at the centre of a tug of war between Ireland and England and has asked for more time to make his decision as he emerges as a genuine talent.

Grealish is on duty with the Republic's Under-21s this week, and 38-year-old club-mate Given is hoping he can be persuaded to continue to wear the green jersey.

Asked if he had tried to talk the promising Birmingham-born youngster into committing himself to the Irish cause, the keeper said: "Yes, every day!

"He's a big talent. He came on yesterday against Hull and he was fantastic. We all hope he comes and plays for Ireland.

"He is meeting up with the under-21s this week and I think the key is not to put too much pressure on him. Himself and his dad are going to be making that decision, maybe over the next number of months.

"Ideally, we would like him straight away because I feel he is good enough to play straight away, because he is a really talented player. Hopefully we can keep him in the green jersey."

The teenager played the final 15 minutes of Villa's 2-1 Barclays Premier League victory over the Tigers, which saw him receive some rough treatment as he went through his repertoire.

Given said: "I think three of them were booked for tackling him. He is very nifty, he is very quick with the ball. He can invite defenders and players on to him, and he is so skilled and he moves the ball so quickly. He's a real talent."

Midfielder David Meyler, one of three Hull players among the senior Republic squad which trained in Malahide on Monday, was impressed by what he saw from Grealish.

He said: "They played very well the first half and we came out and the manager wanted us to get stuck in and get into their faces. Young Jack dwelt on the ball two or three times for long enough for one of our lads to have a swing at him.

"But you know he's another bright talent and he's Irish, and these are the ones we have to watch for the future."

Manager Martin O'Neill certainly is watching, although he is determined not to exert too much pressure at a time when speculation has suggested West Ham midfielder Mark Noble could declare for Ireland after being overlooked by England once again.

Asked about the situation, O'Neill said: "I think John O'Shea might have made a comment today which I would wholeheartedly agree with: you have to want to play for the country and if that's the case, then the encouragement would be there.

"But at some stage or an other, if you are indecisive about something, well I'm not so sure that that augurs brilliantly for stuff. From my own viewpoint, that's how I would look at it. I want players who really do want to play.

"Now, you can understand young Grealish at this minute, 18 years of age maybe having decisions to make one way or the other. I don't really want to put that sort of pressure on, but I am talking about established players who have played for some time.

"Now if Mark Noble decides that England isn't for him and really genuinely wants to play, then I will genuinely have a look at it. But we will see."

Press Association

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