Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has stated that he will not force Jack Grealish’s international future, after leaving the Aston Villa teenager out of his 36-man provisional squad for next month’s games against Scotland and the USA.
Aged 19, Grealish has been hailed as one of the Premier League’s most exciting prospects after making his first-team breakthrough this season, earning encouraging reviews from four brief top-flight outings and one Capital One Cup start thus far.
The Birmingham-born winger, whose father is from Dublin, has represented Ireland at all age levels from under-15 through to under-21 level, but is understood to have attracted the interest of England since his recent rise to prominence.
O’Neill stresses, however, that he doesn’t want to pressure Grealish into a decision, and will let him make up his own mind on his own time.
‘I had a conversation with Jack and his father some time ago,’ he told reporters as he announced the recent squad. ‘Naturally he was just breaking into the Aston Villa side at the time, wanted a little bit of time to think about it. I didn’t put any pressure on.
‘I did suggest to his father that he might want to get involved in the Oman game, still not having to commit himself. The father nicely sent me back a message saying no, he would concentrate on the U21s at that time. I left it since then. I’ve had no conversation since and that where it remains. Again would like him if that’s the case but I’m not going to force it.
“I can understand it. There is some new kid in town and I think, absolutely, particularly if you see someone who has an eligibility to play for Ireland, of course, breaking into someone’s first team at Premiership level,’ he added.
‘There is no doubt the little bits that I have seen of Jack he’s got a lot of talent. It looks like he has gotten stronger from the first time that I saw him playing for Notts County against Brentford in a match when he came on as a substitute when he was sent out on loan. He’s definitely got talent.’