Tim Sherwood reveals how Tottenham star has faced similar dilemma to Aston Villa's Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish

With Grealish at the centre of an international tug-of-war between England and Ireland, the Villa boss has been reminded of a similar situation he tackled with Nabil Bentaleb at Spurs.

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has told TalkSport that Jack Grealish must go with his heart in deciding his international future.

Grealish, 19, has been hailed as one of the Premier League’s most exciting prospects since making his first-team breakthrough at the start of the season, although he saw little action during the since-departed Paul Lambert’s final months in charge.

However, new boss Sherwood has been more eager to get the teenage attacker involved in recent weeks, handing him three consecutive starts, including in the weekend’s 2-1 FA Cup semi-final win over Liverpool.

The Solihull-native has earned rave reviews on each occasion and, with his name now entering the national headlines, attentions has turned to the debate over whether he will represent England or the Republic of Ireland.

With his father hailing from Dublin, Grealish has represented the latter from Under-15 to Under-21 level but has also attracted interest from the English FA, with England Under-21s boss Gareth Southgate known to have watched him on several occasions.

Speaking to the Guardian back in October, Southgate said: “The family and Jack are aware of our interest. You are allowed to switch once when you are a young player and Jack is someone we are monitoring and we’ll keep our eye on that situation.”

While Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has often talked up Grealish's senior credentials, the Villa prospect has so far held off on his choice and has even been on a break from international football since October in order to focus on his club ambitions.

Sherwood, meanwhile, is fine with him not rushing his decision and has compared his situation to that which transpired with Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, who the former Spur manager had to help decide between Algeria and France last winter.

"It's up to Jack where he wants to go,” said the Villa boss. “What I've got to do is make sure he's got that decision to make. He must be doing something right for Aston Villa if he's got those options. That's my priority.

"Then it's up to Jack to decide where he wants to go. I had the same situation with Nabil Bentaleb who could have played for France but decided to pick Algeria.

“I did have a chat with him and he asked me what to do. I just said, 'you've got to go with your heart. Do you think you're French or Algerian?'

"That's the decision he had to make and now Jack has got to make that decision. He has to play a few more times for Aston Villa before he needs to make that decision."

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch