Saturday 20 January 2018

Tim Sherwood: I spoke with Martin O'Neill but didn't influence Jack Grealish

Sherwood insists club had no role in teenage star's snub to O'Neill

Jack Grealish turned down Martin O'Neill's invitation to join up with the Republic of Ireland squad
Jack Grealish turned down Martin O'Neill's invitation to join up with the Republic of Ireland squad
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Tim Sherwood has insisted that he had no input in Jack Grealish's decision to turn down a call from Ireland manager Martin O'Neill.

The Aston Villa boss has revealed that he spoke with O'Neill amid the furore surrounding the teenager's dilemma and assured him that the 19-year-old was placed under no pressure by his club.

"I just told him that Jack is not going to make a decision on international football until after the season," said Sherwood. "It is totally up to Jack. If Jack decided he wanted to play for Ireland or England now it is totally up to Jack. The decision was left with him.

"If he wants guidance from me, unfortunately I can't give it him. Jack has to know who he wants to represent."

Sherwood does not believe that the teenager is leaning firmly in one direction as he considers where to pin his allegiance.

"I don't think Jack didn't want to play for Ireland, I don't think he didn't want to play for England or Brazil for that matter," he added. "It's on hold.

"He's got three very important games to take care of for Aston Villa. His concentration is fully on that.

"Jack hasn't made his mind up what country he wants to represent. The good news is they all want him. It's a decision only Jack has to make in a cool, calm situation."

Grealish has thrived under the tutelage of Sherwood, a contrast from a strained relationship with former boss Paul Lambert who was reluctant to give him first-team responsibility.

Lambert spoke about his Villa departure yesterday and indicated that he didn't see 'eye to eye' with the youngster who believed that should he have been involved in the squad.

His current boss says that Grealish is a 'flash kid' but says there is nothing arrogant about his attitude.

"I don't find him cocky. He's a nice lad. I've never had a problem. He's very confident, a great guy, a good kid and wants to improve. That's what I've learned. He certainly hasn't changed from the moment I walked in here.

"He's concentrating on improving and if he can get to where we think he can he can be a special player.

Meanwhile, Shay Given has spoken about his new lease of life now he's back in the Villa side. "I am loving every minute," he said.

"It's a lesson never to give up. It's been tough not playing regularly. People don't see you training hard every day, in the gym and on the mat doing yoga. But I never gave up hope."

Read more: Brian O'Driscoll has had his say on the Jack Grealish saga

Irish Independent

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