Wednesday 22 November 2017

Roy Hodgson: Jack Grealish initiated talks with England

England manager Roy Hodgson described Grealish as a young player with a 'bright future' for Ireland or England
England manager Roy Hodgson described Grealish as a young player with a 'bright future' for Ireland or England

Dion Fanning

Roy Hodgson said last night that Jack Grealish has initiated contact with England and described the player's connection to Ireland as 'tenuous'.

"There have been some discussions. I think Jack Grealish himself has initiated some discussion with the FA. Not by me, I haven't spoken to him," the England manager said at the Aviva last night.

Hodgson described Grealish as a young player with a "bright future" for Ireland or England.

"We think he's a good player but it's for him to decide where his loyalties lie. I don't even know if Jack's parents or grandparents were born in Ireland. One set of grandparents?

"It'll be up to him. It's a tenuous link in some ways if your grandparents are born in a country and you and your parents are born in another country but that is what the rules state. He can choose countries. He'll choose the country which suits him best and which he thinks is the right one for him and also the one no doubt that his family will have a say in choosing because I guess he will be influenced by his family."

When asked to confirm that the player had initiated the contact, Hodgson said, "I'm not sure, maybe his agent did."

An FA spokesman confirmed that Dan Ashworth, the FA technical director, and Gareth Southgate, the England under 21 manager, have spoken to Grealish's father and his agent in the past month and added that there had been communication for some time.

Hodgson's comments support the view that Grealish will choose England next season.

The England captain Wayne Rooney also confirmed the story that he was once approached to play for Ireland.

"I've never thought about playing for Ireland. I was born in England and England is the country that I love. Lee Carsley, when I was at Everton, approached me on behalf of Mick McCarthy. He asked me about it and it never even crossed my mind. I had Irish grandparents, so if they wanted to play for Ireland I'm sure they could have. I didn't even think about it."

Rooney said it was up to Grealish to make the decision.

"I think it's down to him really. I'm a firm believer that the country you are born in is who you should play for, but the rules are the rules. It's down to him to make the decision, and better sooner than later."

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