Belfast Telegraph

Jack Grealish decision is no snub, insists Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill

By Damien Spellman

Martin O'Neill has insisted he did not attempt to force Aston Villa starlet Jack Grealish's hand by offering him the chance to commit to the Republic of Ireland once again.

O'Neill revealed that the Birmingham-born 19-year-old, who is at the centre of a tug-of-war between the Republic and England, has rejected the chance to join up with the squad for next month's friendly against Roy Hodgson's side and the Euro 2016 qualifier with Scotland.

However, despite months of patient pursuit during which assistant manager Roy Keane also went to work on the teenager, Grealish is sticking to his guns after revealing earlier in the year that he would make his decision at the start of next season.

Ulsterman O'Neill initially accepted that stance, but decided to test the water with the youngster having forced his way into the first-team picture at Villa in recent weeks to rave reviews.

O'Neill said: "I spoke to both Jack and his father and I think Jack just didn't want to make his mind up at this stage.

"He wanted to complete the season at Aston Villa - there are some important games for them coming up - and he wants to make his decision at some time in the future."

O'Neill admitted his disappointment at Grealish's decision, but did not consider it a snub.

He said: "No. I don't take it personally. I think Jack is pretty firm in what he wants to do and that's fine."

There is the possibility that Roy Hodgson could persuade Grealish that his international future could lie with England.

Belfast Telegraph


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