Tuesday 25 October 2016

'It was not an easy decision as Ireland has a special place in my heart' - Jack Grealish has declared to play for England

Jack Grealish
Jack Grealish
Football - Leicester City v Aston Villa - Barclays Premier League - King Power Stadium - 13/9/15 Aston Villa's Jack Grealish applauds the fans at the end of the match Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Boyers Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish has chosen to pledge his international future to England, rather than the Republic of Ireland.

Grealish, who celebrated his 20th birthday this month, represented the Republic at youth level through his Irish-born grandparents before his displays at Villa under the guidance of Tim Sherwood caught the eye of England manager Roy Hodgson.

Hodgson has been keen for Grealish to come to a decision about his international future and it was revealed by his club on Twitter on Monday afternoon.

"Jack Grealish has made a decision over his international future and opted to play for England," said the Tweet.

In a statement released today on his twitter feed, the young midfielder said it wasn't an "easy choice".

"I have decided to give my allegiance to England. It was not an easy decision as Ireland has a special place with me through my family. However, I have decided to represent the country of my birth."

The Birmingham-born playmaker, who qualifies for Ireland through his grandparents, has been in impressive form for the Villains in 2015 and has become a vital asset for manager Tim Sherwood.

The news will come as a big blow to Martin O'Neill who has been in contact with the player and his father in the hopes of persuading him to play with the boys in green.

Grealish, who turned down a call-up to the senior Ireland squad for a friendly against England in June, was watched by Hodgson's assistant, Ray Lewington, at Anfield on Saturday as Villa lost 3-2 to Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League.

He could now be selected for England's upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania next month.

With the Three Lions' place in next summer's final in France already secured, Hodgson has confirmed he is likely to use the remaining qualifying games to take a look at some different players.

England also have a friendly with France scheduled for mid-November.

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