Tuesday 21 November 2017

Martin O'Neill announces 36-man squad and confirms that Jack Grealish is considering his options

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

MARTIN O’NEILL has confirmed that rising Aston Villa star Jack Grealish wants further time to consider his international future.

Grealish, who looks set to feature prominently for Villa in the Premier League this season, has asked for space to mull over his next move now that he’s in the frame for senior recognition.

The 18-year-old has represented Ireland through the age groups to U21 level, but his native England have made attempts to sway him in their direction.

“I spoke to his father, I spoke to Jack. I think like anything else, he’s a young kid coming through with a lot of potential and I just think they just want to take a little bit of time,” said O’Neill this morning.

“He’s got a number of options and he’s felt comfortable playing underage level but it’s a totally different thing to committing yourself to senior football. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s got taller. He’s got stronger the last couple of months. It was a decent conversation and I think I’ll just leave it at that at the moment.”

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish is understood to have asked for space to consider his international future and so won't be included in Martin O'Neill's latest Irish squad. Photo: Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

O’Neill was speaking at his announcement of the 36-man squad for the opening Euro 2016 qualifier with Georgia in Tbilisi on September 7 which is preceded by a Dublin friendly with Oman four days earlier.

There were no surprises in his list with Paul Green the only injury absentee after sustaining an injury with Rotherham earlier this week.

Darron Gibson and Robbie Brady are included after missing all of O’Neill’s previous squads due to injury.

However, they still have to prove their fitness at club level before making the trimmed down squad which will be confirmed closer to the meet-up.

Gibson has not made a competitive appearance for Everton since damaging his cruciate ligament on Irish duty against Kazakhstan last October.

Roberto Martinez is slowly phasing him back into the first team squad at Goodison Park and said earlier this week that he was easing the Derryman back in with a view to a full return in September.

“In terms of match fitness, Darron is a little bit below,” said the Irish boss. “He thought he might have been involved in the squad last week [v Leicester] but I think he’s on the radar now and that’s good news for us all.

“In terms of Robbie, he’s just had an injury hit season. I’ll probably head up to watch Hull and Stoke on Sunday and he just might get on the field of play. All told, at least it’s positive.

James McClean is another player on the comeback trail and has been running at Wigan this week as he seeks to move closer to action.

O’Neill also addressed the issue of Shane Long’s £12 million move to Southampton, asserting that the Tipp native will come under fresh scrutiny given the size of the fee.

“I know that the stock answer from players is that they weren’t the ones who organised the price tag,” he said. “Obviously the more money you go for, there is pressure on. If you’ve gone for serious money, there is an immediate pressure to perform. That said, Shane should be able to take that in his stride.”

Irish squad: D Forde, K Westwood, D Randolph, R Elliot, R Keogh, M Wilson, S Coleman, J O’Shea, A Pearce, Kelly, P McShane, D Delaney, J O’Brien, S Duffy, J McCarthy, J Hendrick, C Clark, S Ward, G Whelan, D Gibson, A Reid, A McGeady, A Pilkington, J McClean, R Brady, S Quinn, D Meyler, W Hoolahan, R Keane, S Long, D Murphy, J Walters, K Doyle, A Stokes, S Cox, C Sammon

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