Belfast Telegraph

Villa midfielder Jack Grealish rejects Ireland's call and opts for England

By Robert Jones

Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish has chosen to pledge his international future to England, rather than the Republic of Ireland.

Grealish, who celebrated his 20th birthday this month, represented the Republic at youth level through his Irish-born grandparents before his displays at Villa under the guidance of Tim Sherwood caught the eye of England manager Roy Hodgson.

Hodgson has been keen for Grealish to come to a decision about his international future and it was revealed by his club on Twitter yesterday afternoon.

"Jack Grealish has made a decision over his international future and opted to play for England," said the Tweet.

Grealish, who turned down a call-up to the senior Ireland squad for a friendly against England in June, was watched by Hodgson's assistant, Ray Lewington, at Anfield on Saturday as Villa lost 3-2 to Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League.

He could now be selected for England's upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania next month.

With the Three Lions' place in next summer's final in France already secured, Hodgson has confirmed he is likely to use the remaining qualifying games to take a look at some different players.

England also have a friendly with France scheduled for mid-November.

After pledging his allegiance to England, Grealish, born in Solihull, tweeted: "It was not an easy decision as Ireland has a special place with me through my family. But I have decided to represent the country of my birth." Grealish had been at the centre of a battle between the two countries and held talks with Hodgson and Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill earlier this summer.

Hodgson has been pressurising the young player to make a decision, which has not gone down well with his Republic counterpart. Earlier this month following the Republic's 1-0 win over Georgia, O'Neill said: "That's encouraging, that's encouraging. Roy's not going to hang around. Well done Roy, putting the pressure on."

Grealish's club manager Sherwood has always been relaxed about the situation, advising his main asset to take his time making the decision.

Last week Sherwood insisted he would not even accept a bid of £60million for the promising midfielder.

Belfast Telegraph


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