Friday 15 December 2017

Jack Grealish decides not to take up Martin O'Neill's Ireland squad invite

MARTIN O’Neill’s plans to select Jack Grealish were dealt a bitter blow today when the youngster declined to be part of the intended Ireland squad.

There was huge confusion after a senior FAI source today “confirmed” to that the 19-year-old would be selected and Martin O'Neill has confirmed he was in his intended squad.

However, as the press conference was due to kick off at midday, something appeared to have occurred with rumour and speculation that O’Neill had been in contact with Grealish.

What happened during that contact is unclear but it appears that one of the sides had a major change of heart.

"I spoke to both Jack and his father and Jack didn't want to make up his mind at this stage," said O'Neill.

O'Neill did confirm that Grealish was in his intended squad. The Irish manager admitted he is disappointed by the Aston Villa youngster's decision but still thinks "there is a good possibility" he will play for Ireland.

"I spoke to his father and said that I wanted to pick him. I'm sure that he could in the future (choose Ireland).

"He didn't want to make a decision now. I would have liked to have had him training with us for the week ahead of England game, that's a disappointing aspect."

Read more: Comment: You either want to play for Ireland or you don't, Jack

O'Neill insists previous comments made by Roy Keane about Grealish's father did not impact on his decision: "No I don't think that had an affect. It was taken in a jocular fashion," he said.

Asked whether his decision to contact Jack Grealish had now put the ball in the teenager's court, he said: "I don't think it was an attempt to preempt anything. I still think that bringing him into the squad for a week's training to see that the FAI will look after him would have been good.

"He has played well enough at Aston Villa to suggest he can become a senior international player."

Asked whether the delay to his press conference was due to the fact that he was in conversation with Jack Grealish's father, he responded: "Not necessarily."

O'Neill had previously said that the Scotland game would be "too big" for Grealish but he clearly had a change of heart.

"He has played a lot of games since then. Under Tim Sherwood, he has started quite a number of games and in fairness to him, he has made quite a good impression when he's started.

"He's lasting a lot longer in games and doing a lot of good work.

"Of course, the last four or five weeks have made a big difference to Jack's career and my thinking."

Asked to respond to criticism from Eamon Dunphy, that the Irish management was "insulting" and "disrespectful" in the way the had handled the Jack Grealish affair, an unimpressed O'Neill said: "And Eamon said that... That's good enough for me."

On Robbie Keane's groin injury, O'Neill said: "He's okay he just sent a text message through to say he's okay."

The Ireland squad in full: David Forde (Millwall); Shay Given (Aston Villa); Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday); Darren Randolph (Birmingham City); Richard Keogh (Derby County); Marc Wilson (Stoke City); Seamus Coleman (Everton); Cyrus Christie (Derby County); John O’Shea (Sunderland); Alex Pearce (Reading); Paul McShane (Hull City); James McCarthy (Everton) Jeff Hendrick (Derby County)  Stephen Ward (Burnley); Harry Arter (Bournemouth); Glenn Whelan (Stoke City); Aiden McGeady (Everton); James McClean (Wigan Athletic); Alan Judge (Brentford); Robbie Brady (Hull City); Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff City); Stephen Quinn (Hull City); David Meyler (Hull City); Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City); Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy); Shane Long (Southampton); Daryl Murphy (Ipswich Town); Jon Walters (Stoke City); Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids); Anthony Stokes (Celtic FC); David McGoldrick (Ipswich Town); Adam Rooney (Aberdeen); Simon Cox Reading

Read more: Comment: You either want to play for Ireland or you don't, Jack

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