Sunday 23 October 2016

Grealish switch still in limbo as he serves ban

Jack Grealish
Jack Grealish

Almost two months after pledging his allegiance to England, Jack Grealish is still not eligible to represent the country of his birth, FIFA has confirmed.

When Saturday comes, two months will have passed since Solihull-born Grealish declared he wanted to switch his allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England after holding talks with Roy Hodgson.

The midfielder played at youth level for the Republic of Ireland through his grandparents, but Hodgson told the 20-year-old he had the potential to play for England so he turned his back on the Irish, declaring on Twitter on September 28: "It was not an easy decision as Ireland has a special place with me through my family. But I have decided to represent the country of my birth."

The Football Association (FA) expected FIFA would take between four to six weeks to process the papers, but nearly two months on, there has been no progress.

A FIFA spokesperson said: "We can confirm having been contacted by the Football Association with a request for change of association of the player Jack Grealish.

"The matter is pending and being investigated by our services and as a result, we are not in a position to comment on it any further nor to give an estimation as to the relevant time line."

No explanation has been given for the delay, but the FA says there is no problem with the matter.

Given his recent sub-par performances with Villa, Grealish is probably a fair way down the pecking order with England anyway, and the player has been in trouble with his club for off-the-field issues too.

Villa manager Remi Garde has dropped Grealish from his squad for this weekend's game against Watford after the player was filmed partying following the 4-0 defeat to Everton last week.

"He won't be included in the squad for Watford,'' Garde said.

"(His actions) are not of the professional standard that I expect from my players. That is why Jack is training in the under-21 team."

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