Roy Keane weighs in on Aston Villa teenager Jack Grealish's international future

Jack Grealish

The Villa midfielder is at the centre of a tug of war between Ireland and England for his services.

Roy Keane has told Sky Sports that he hopes Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish will opt to play for the Republic of Ireland but feels the 19-year-old is being put under too much pressure to make his decision.

Grealish has represented Ireland through Under-15 to Under-21 level but his recent emergence on the Premier League scene has led to increasing suggestions that he could be set to switch international allegiances to England.

England Under-21s manager Gareth Southgate is known to have watched the Birmingham-native on several occasions and revealed back in October that the FA were monitoring his situation.

“The family and Jack are aware of our interest,” he told the Guardian. “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.”

Ireland boss Martin O’Neill had planned to hand Grealish his first senior call-up for this weekend’s clash with England in Dublin but was told ahead of naming his squad that the teenager did not want to commit.

Assistant manager Keane, who worked with Grealish at Villa during his five-month stint as Paul Lambert’s number two, has stressed that he does not feel slighted, though, and insists that whatever the promising No. 10’s ultimate decision is should be respected.

Praising his potential, the former Manchester United skipper said: "I was lucky enough to work with him at close quarters at Villa and he's a talented kid but, as usual, the media interest - not just the Irish, but in England - they like to build these kids up before they have done too much in the game, and Jack has a lot to do yet.

"But he's got potential, and we'll see over the next few months and years how he progresses. It would be great if it was with us; if not, then we'll just get on with it. It's pretty straightforward.

"From my experience working with him, Jack is a really good kid, an absolutely good kid, but he has still got a lot to do in the game,” Keane added. “He has obviously got a big decision to make, and I think whatever decision he makes will be the right one, and you would wish him well.

"From Jack's point of view, if he came and played for Ireland, I think he would love it. I think he would enjoy the players. He obviously enjoyed it at under-age level.

"People have been too hard on him lately, and if he comes and plays for us, brilliant. But if he goes and plays for England, then you have got to respect the decision. Whether you like it or not is irrelevant. You have got to accept it."

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch