Thursday 19 July 2018

Martin O'Neill: I spoke to Jack Grealish 10 days ago and he is very, very close to a decision

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish has requested more time to make up his mind on his international future
Aston Villa's Jack Grealish has requested more time to make up his mind on his international future

John Fallon

Jack Grealish was not named by Martin O’Neill in the Ireland squad today for the upcoming Euro qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia as he’s requested more time to consider his international dilemma.

The Aston Villa winger had indicated in March his intention to end a year-long break from the Ireland set-up in September but, amid further interest from his homeland of England, the decision has been pushed out.

Complicating the matter further is the fitness status of the 19-year-old. Last night’s reserve outing against Derby County – in which he scored the winner – was his first action since injuring his hamstring in pre-season.

As reported by earlier today, O’Neill has spoken to Grealish recently and has been made aware of his stance.

"The situation with Jack is that I had a conversation with him and his father a week or 10 days ago. I thought it was pretty fruitful and Jack - I think he will decide very very shortly," said O'Neill.

"Obviously it’s a big decision for him, he will play obviously more often for us, he’s a very good talent and England naturally, I think, would qualify for more competitions than we would do but it’s a decision he has to give consideration to.

"This is not something for overnight, this will take him for the rest of his career at international level so I can understand that. He and his father agreed that it’s about time they were going to do something about. Fine, if he’s worth waiting for that in that sense, not necessarily for me but for the future of ourselves then so be it. He’s got age on his side and a very decent talent."

The Ireland boss had tabled an invitation to the Birmingham-born playmaker into the senior fold for the friendly against England in June only for it to be declined.

One possible option of Grealish continuing his Ireland career with the Under-21s – thereby leaving open the possibly of defecting to England’s full squad later in his career – has not materialised. Noel King's side continue their qualifying campaign away to Andorra on September 8.

England boss Roy Hodgson developed an admiration for the teen last season when he burst on the scene for Villa under Tim Sherwood, in particular following his dazzling display in the FA Cup semi-final victory over Liverpool.

A player in big demand, Grealish is prepared to keep both Ireland and England waiting.

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