Saturday 24 March 2018

Tim Sherwood has his reasons for wanting Jack Grealish to focus on Aston Villa

Jack Grealish has chosen England
Jack Grealish has chosen England

Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood has defended his decision to ask for Jack Grealish to be left out of England training.

The midfielder has pledged his international future to the Three Lions after choosing them above the Republic of Ireland.

Birmingham-born Grealish represented Ireland at under-21 level as he qualified through his grandparents but after his decision national manager Roy Hodgson was keen on bringing him to train with England during the international break, with Grealish waiting for his new international registration.

Villa want to keep him at the club to work on his match fitness after he missed most of pre-season with a hamstring injury and, ahead of Saturday's visit of Stoke, Sherwood insisted it is the right call.

He said: "He's missed pre-season and the last international break when we wanted to get some training into him, he was injured. So we're going to use this opportunity now.

"If he was called up for the squad then he'd be going but he wasn't. Roy asked me and said he would like to invite him there and introduce him to the boys and get a feel for St George's Park.

"I thought it was better for him to stay here and work hard. We'll use this time to get him fit for the remainder of the season. He won't be alone, a few of the boys are doing exactly the same."

But Sherwood warned the 20-year-old he must focus on his Villa form if he stands any chance of gatecrashing Hodgson's squad for Euro 2016.

He said: "He's not playing for England unless he is playing for Villa. It goes for every player, they need to play for their club side and play well to get picked by the England manager.

"Roy is at a lot of our games and he is always looking. He's going to make that decision based on how Jack is playing for Aston Villa."

Villa are third bottom in the Barclays Premier League and two points adrift of fourth-bottom Stoke but Sherwood, who will be without Adama Traore (ankle) and has a doubt over Gabby Agbonlahor (calf), dismissed suggestions they are in a relegation scrap yet.

"It's too early to put us in a relegation battle. It's not what we wanted for the return of points. We're a young group, a new group and I'm confident we'll be okay," he added.

Villa have not won in the league since the opening day of the season to put pressure on Sherwood after just seven games.

The boss, though, insisted he remains unaffected by the spotlight and the "faceless" doubters ahead of the clash with the Potters, who beat Villa 2-1 in Sherwood's first game in charge in February.

He said: "I'd rather do without it to be honest but you come out fighting don't you?

"I don't want be guarded, I want to be quite open as I've always been. It comes with the job and I knew that when I came into management. It's never always going to be the honeymoon period is it? You have ups and downs don't you, as with the wife!

"It's completely different as a player. When you're a player you look after yourself. As a manager you're looking after the expectation of the whole football club.

"Even more so now it's a tougher job with all the social media and the faceless people who have an opinion. They're entitled to it, the world's moved on. It's a tougher job now than it was 10-15 years ago.

"It doesn't affect me because I don't go on these sites (Twitter) to be honest. I listen to people talking about it. It's different now, isn't it? It used to be Saint and Greavsie and that was it."

Press Association

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