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Wednesday 7 December 2016

John Giles: In Jack Grealish Ireland have lost a star of the future

Grealish has real pedigree in game and decision not to go green will be sorely felt

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04 : Jack Grealish of Aston Villa during the FA Cup Third Round match between Aston Villa and Blackpool at Villa Park on January 04, 2015 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04 : Jack Grealish of Aston Villa during the FA Cup Third Round match between Aston Villa and Blackpool at Villa Park on January 04, 2015 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)
The decision by Jack Grealish to declare his allegiances to England will be felt by current Ireland manager Martin O’Neill and future Irish bosses to come

Ireland have lost a star of the future. Jack Grealish is a player, I have no doubt about that and in years to come, we will have cause to regret the decision he has made.

It's a big thing to say but I believe Grealish would have been the best ever recruit from the ranks of those born outside the country but have family connections which make them eligible.

First and foremost, good luck to him. He has made his decision and we must respect it. It was obviously a difficult thing for him to do.

His Irish connection was strong enough to have him playing Gaelic football when he was younger so I don't buy into Roy Hodgson's suggestion that he had a tenuous link with Ireland.

Raised

But he was born in England, raised in England and has declared for England and when you put it that way, it was the correct decision for him.

Of course there was much more to it than that and this is illustrated by the fact that Grealish has agonised over his choice for a long time.

I have to say, I feared the worst when I read what Jonathon Barnett, his agent, had to say about Gareth Bale and the fact that he tried to have him declare for England because it made more commercial sense.

Talent

My heart sank when I read that. What an awful way to look at the world and what a lesson for us all. How have we allowed men like this to have an influence in the game?

I've watched Grealish since his name first emerged and I've seen a talented kid progress to the point where he can influence Premier League matches.

He has talent on the ball, off it, he can score goals and he can make goals. All managers need players like that but Martin O'Neill, in particular, is very light on creative playmakers and I'm convinced Grealish will mature into a very good one.

If he does, we will see him play a lot for England and that will be hard to take. In the past, any of the kids the English FA capped to keep Ireland's hands off them didn't really set the world on fire afterwards.

But Grealish has every chance. It would be galling in the extreme if Hodgson introduces him quickly to senior international football and we have to watch him playing in France 2016 in a white shirt with three lions embossed on the badge.

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