Friday 23 March 2018

Keane hopes Grealish picks Ireland

Roy Keane hopes young prospect Jack Grealish, pictured, picks the Republic of Ireland
Roy Keane hopes young prospect Jack Grealish, pictured, picks the Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane is hoping Jack Grealish's involvement with the Under-21s will help to persuade him his future lies with the green shirt.

The 18-year-old Aston Villa midfielder is currently on duty with Noel King's side in Germany, where they complete their European Under-21s Championships qualifying campaign in Halle on Friday.

He currently finds himself at the centre of a tug of love between Ireland and England with senior boss Martin O'Neill insisting he will not put pressure on the youngster to make a swift decision.

Keane, who has combined his position as O'Neill's number two with a similar job at Villa Park, is approaching the situation equally delicately, but is hoping Grealish eventually opts to represent the Republic.

The 43-year-old said: "All I know is the manager has met with him and I speak with him.

"He is a really good player - I think he is playing for the Under-21s tomorrow night and he will have a decision to make when he is ready.

"But obviously, we are not putting him under pressure. We would love to have him on board - he is a really, really good player.

"We know we haven't got a massive group of players to pick from, so if he comes on board, it would be absolutely fantastic because I think he has got a chance of being a good player. "

Grealish has been included among a youthful squad for the Republic's final Group Six fixture with only pride remaining at stake.

King's hopes of taking his team to the finals in the Czech Republic next summer were dashed back in March when they lost 2-1 to Montenegro at Tallaght Stadium in a game they simply had to win if they were to stand any chance of qualification.

Indeed, they have tasted victory in only one of their four home matches, a 5-2 success against the bottom-of-the table Faroe Islands at the Showgrounds in Sligo in November which completed a double over the group's minnows.

Ireland lost 4-0 at home to the Germans, who head the group, in September last year and King will hope to see evidence that a new crop of players can serve their country well in the return.

Press Association

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