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Monday 5 December 2016

Jack Grealish not named in squad for England and Scotland games

Jack Grealish
Jack Grealish

Martin O’Neill’s plans to select Jack Grealish were dealt a bitter blow today when the youngster declined to be part of the Ireland squad.

Republic of Ireland Martin O'Neill confirmed that Jack Grealish was in his intended squad.

The Irish manager said: "I spoke to both Jack and his father and Jack didn't want to make up his mind at this stage," said O'Neill.

The Irish manager admitted he is disappointed by the Aston Villa youngster's decision but still thinks "there is a good possibility" he will play for Ireland.

"I spoke to his father and said that I wanted to pick him. I'm sure that he could in the future (choose Ireland).

"He didn't want to make a decision now. I would have liked to have had him training with us for the week ahead of England game, that's a disappointing aspect."

O'Neill insists previous comments made by Roy Keane about Grealish's father did not impact on his decision: "No, I don't think that had an effect. It was taken in a jocular fashion," he said.

Asked whether his decision to contact Jack Grealish had now put the ball in the teenager's court, he said: "I don't think it was an attempt to preempt anything. I still think that bringing him into the squad for a week's training to see that the FAI will look after him would have been good.

"He has played well enough at Aston Villa to suggest he can become a senior international player."

Asked whether the delay to his press conference was due to the fact that he was in conversation with Jack Grealish's father, he responded: "Not necessarily."

Asked if he was disappointed by the player's response, he said: "Yes, I suppose I am. He has been doing very well recently and it would have been nice, but that's Jack's decision.

However, O'Neill said that he was hopeful that Grealish willl still yet play for Ireland.

At the press conference, which was delayed for 45 minutes, O'Neill made the point that in the last five weeks the midfielder has played as many games for Aston Villa as he did in the previous 30 and that changed his mind about bringing him in.

Grealish has been courted by O’Neill and his assistant manager, Roy Keane, for months and they were hopeful the teenager will choose to play for Ireland rather than ­England as he has played all of his age‑group football for them.

Although he was born in Birmingham, Grealish qualifies to play for Ireland as his father is from Dublin. Grealish, who has shone for Villa under the new manager Tim Sherwood, said in March he was looking forward “to pulling on the green jersey again” after taking a sabbatical from international football to concentrate on his club career.

However, O’Neill has still not been given a clear answer on whether he intends to play for Ireland or England, and there are fears he was just saying what people wanted to hear as he had just been named Ireland’s young player of the year.

Elsewhere in the provisional squad, which will be whittled down before the players meet up on June 1, there were places for Brentford midfielder Alan Judge and Aberdeen striker Adam Rooney, while Bournemouth's Harry Arter, who was called up in March, retained his place for the friendly against England on June 7 and the Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland six days later.

Experienced duo John O'Shea and Robbie Keane were both named in the party despite currently nursing rib and groin injuries respectively, although O'Neill is confident both will be fit.

Squad: David Forde (Millwall), Shay Given (Aston Villa), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Darren Randolph (Birmingham),; Richard Keogh (Derby), Marc Wilson (Stoke), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Derby), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Alex Pearce (Reading), Paul McShane (Hull), Stephen Ward (Burnley); James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Derby), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), Aiden McGeady (Everton), James McClean (Wigan), Alan Judge (Brentford), Robbie Brady (Hull), Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff), Stephen Quinn, David Meyler (both Hull), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich); Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (Southampton), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich), Jon Walters (Stoke), Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids), Anthony Stokes (Celtic), David McGoldrick (Ipswich), Adam Rooney (Aberdeen), Simon Cox (Reading).

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