Aston Villa's Grealish omitted from England squad for inflammatory risk

Jack Grealish

England manager Roy Hodgson has spoken out on why Aston Villa's Jack Grealish was considered for a national call-up, but in the end not risked.

The 24-man England squad named on Thursday to face the Republic of Ireland and Slovenia in June included some experimental names, and some observers expected 19-year-old Grealish to be given the nod after a fine run of form for Aston Villa. But while Roy Hodgson explained that he had considered calling up Grealish, he chose not to so as to avoid inflaming a potentially volatile encounter in Dublin against the Republic of Ireland.

Grealish has yet to declare his intentions at full international level, having represented the Republic of Ireland at youth level through a qualification via his grandparents. So the Villa midfielder is still eligible to represent the Republic or England, the place of his birth, at senior level.

Republic boss Martin O'Neill is still hopeful that Grealish will choose to wear the green shirt, despite turning down a place in O'Neill's squad for this same fixture, claiming he wasn't ready to make a decision. Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson has made it clear he intends to select Grealish at some stage, but with political anxiety already surrounding the June 7th fixture in Dublin, following FA discussions, he decided not to select the Villa man on this occasion.

Crowd trouble marred the last game between the two nations in the Republic in 1995. The game was abandoned after 27 minutes and England have not played there since. In the build-up to this game both managers have called for peace off the pitch and the friendly encounter has been set with a 1pm kick-off time to avoid potential trouble.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Hodgson said: "It would have been inflammatory at the last minute if he chose us and played. We've been in regular contact with him and his family and his advisers. He's fully aware that if he wants to play for England we'd be very happy to take him. But he has to 100% be allowed to decide himself and it should not be anyone in particular telling him to change allegiance if that is not what he wants to do."

Having made his Villa debut in a 4-0 defeat to Manchester City in May 2014, Birmingham-born Grealish has made 22 appearances for the Villans this season, most prominently under Tim Sherwood in recent months, as he has played an integral role in Villa's rise away from the Premier League relegation zone.

It seems only a matter of time before Grealish makes the step up to senior international level, but the choice of who he represents is still his.

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch