Belfast Telegraph

Irish camp believes Jack Grealish missed out by rejecting their call-up

By Daniel McDonnell

Jack Grealish could have been with the Republic squad for tomorrow's friendly with England and Roy Keane has hinted that he expects the teenager to continue his international career with Roy Hodgson's side.

Keane worked with Grealish for a brief period at Aston Villa and, while he was previously critical of the player's father Kevin, he has spoken highly of the 19-year-old himself.

The Corkman did not offer a firm opinion on what he thinks might happen next with the playmaker, yet he suggested that he is frustrated by how the matter has played out over the last month.

He feels that Grealish would have gained a positive insight into the Irish squad if he'd accepted the call from O'Neill.

"I think the frustrating part is that if Jack came here he'd have loved it, playing with Ireland and the senior squad and getting involved," said Keane. "He'd have loved it. There seems to be a blame game going on. Jack was unsure what he wanted to do and we've got to respect his decision whether we like it or not, it's irrelevant.

"What I found working with Jack in my short time at club level is that he's a really good kid.

"I've never been in that situation and whatever decision he makes will be the right one, whether we like it or not."

Asked directly if he feels the Republic have lost out, Keane replied: "He has obviously not made any official decision yet, so we'll have to wait and see."

Is he hopeful? "You have to be," he continued, before dealing with an opinion that the balance appeared to be tipping towards England.

"He was over at the FAI awards, he's a really nice kid and no doubt it's a difficult decision for him. I've got my own personal thoughts on what he's going to decide in the end."

There is confidence in English circles that Grealish will throw in his lot with the country of his birth after representing the Republic to U-21 level and it's sure to be on the agenda when Roy Hodgson speaks in Dublin this evening.

Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton, meanwhile, is determined to make the most of his maiden England call-up and leave a lasting impression.

A string of impressive Premier League performances led Hodgson to include the 29-year-old in the Three Lions squad for the upcoming matches against the Republic and Slovenia.

The Clarets shot-stopper is thoroughly enjoying the experience, but knows he call ill-afford to let this opportunity slip.

"I'm delighted, I'm thoroughly enjoying it but I'm also here to do a job and I want to perform for my country," he said.

"I have to make it clear my ambition goes far beyond just getting into the squad and making it a one-time thing.

"I've got my foot in the door and I want to make sure I make an impact so I can come back."

Belfast Telegraph


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