Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given admits he’s been trying to convince teammate Jack Grealish to commit to the Republic of Ireland over switching his international allegiances to England.
Considered the club’s brightest prospect, Grealish, 18, has made his first-team breakthrough at the start of this season, after spending the majority of the 2013-14 campaign on loan at League One outfit Notts County.
The Birmingham-born winger is currently on duty with Ireland’s under-21 side, having represented the nation of his grandparents’ birth through youth level, but is now at the centre of a tug-of-war between the FAI and the English FA over his services.
While he has requested more time before making his decision, Given, who himself has just returned to the senior Ireland squad after a two-year absence, believes the teenager is already good enough to feature in Martin O’Neill’s team.
Asked if he’d been trying to talk the promising youngster into continuing to commit to the green jersey, the 125-times capped keeper said: ‘Yes, every day!
‘He's a big talent. He came on against Hull and he was fantastic. We all hope he comes and plays for Ireland.
‘He is meeting up with the Under-21s this week and I think the key is not to put too much pressure on him. Himself and his dad are going to be making that decision, maybe over the next number of months.
‘Ideally, we would like him straight away because I feel he is good enough to play straight away, because he is a really talented player. Hopefully we can keep him in the green jersey.’
After starting Villa’s Capital One Cup defeat to Leyton Orient last week, Grealish came on for the final 15 minutes of the side’s 2-1 win over Hull City on Sunday, and was immediately singled out as a potential threat by the visitors.
‘I think three of them were booked for tackling him,’ Given added. ‘He is very nifty, he is very quick with the ball. He can invite defenders and players on to him, and he is so skilled and he moves the ball so quickly. He's a real talent.
‘He is good enough to be in the senior team - he's that good. I don't want to build him up too much as Roy Hodgson's ears will be pricking up but he is a talented player.’