Friday 15 November 2019

Ireland fears realised as English FA plan swoop for 'confused' Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish was outstanding for Aston Villa against Liverpool on Sunday
Jack Grealish was outstanding for Aston Villa against Liverpool on Sunday
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Shay Given believes that Jack Grealish is 'confused' about the decision over his international future and has warned against putting too much pressure on the Aston Villa teenager.

Grealish's starring display in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final win over Liverpool at Wembley has increased the scrutiny on the Irish U-21 international who is wanted by England.

Reports across the water say that the English FA want to offer Grealish a place in this summer's U-20 tournament in Toulon with a view to getting him to switch allegiance although he would actually be unavailable for half of that competition due to Villa's commitment in the final.

However, it's understood that Grealish will stick with his plan to stay out of the international game until next season.

He said at the FAI awards in March that he intended to return to the green jersey, yet his Villa colleague - who has tried to persuade the Solihull native towards the Irish cause - said last night that the youngster is unsure about his next move.

"He's at a crossroads and it's a tricky one," said Given on Newstalk. "I'm in his ear all the time but he's a little bit confused, he's a very young man and it's such a big decision to be making at a young age.

"The English FA will be thinking, my God, we've got to get this boy onto our books as well. He's played underage with Ireland and he's enjoyed it, he's told me he loves playing for Ireland and coming across. We're coaxing him along and hopefully he'll play for us. He has a strong connection with Ireland.

"I think they're just undecided. Fans, players, and Irish people want to know yesterday (his decision) but I really think deep down he doesn't know yet himself.

"We are not going to force him and back him into a corner. It's a big decision, one of the biggest he'll make in his own career and he's so young. You just don't know."

Given hailed Grealish's outstanding display against the Reds and had previously stated that he could slot into the Irish squad for this summer.

Martin O'Neill suggested before the Liverpool match that the Scotland qualifier could be too much too soon if the player was to change his mind and suddenly become available.

"Martin O'Neill is a hugely experienced manager and he's got players in that position so maybe it is too soon," continued Given. "The stakes are high when we play Scotland. If Jack's not sure in his own head, maybe it is too soon.

"He wasn't overawed at all on Sunday, if anything it spurred him on even more.

"It was the best he played in a Villa shirt. Jack proved to a lot of people how good he is and he's only going to keep improving.

"We see every day in training how good he is. Some of the stuff he does is fantastic, he's untouchable sometimes."

Irish Independent

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