'Aston Villa must come first for Jack Grealish'
ASTON Villa boss Tim Sherwood has waded into the debate on Jack Gealish's international future by telling the midfield prospect that he needs to establish himself at club level before he makes a call on whether he wants to play for England or Ireland.
In the days since Grealish lit up Wembley with that display in Villa's FA Cup win over Liverpool on Sunday, the midfielder's international future has been debated, and not just in Ireland - listeners to the Talksport radio station in England yesterday would have heard Ray Houghton state that Grealish should declare for Ireland while ex-Villa man Lee Hendrie made the case for England.
Shay Given, Roy Keane, Martin O'Neill and Noel King have all had words in the player's ear to persuade him to side with Ireland but a path to the England team - potentially more lucrative financially than an Ireland career - is also on the menu, with Roy Hodgson likely to speak to his underage coaches Gareth Southgate and Aidy Boothroyd about Grealish.
In the middle is Grealish and his family and it's clear from the latest advice from club manager Sherwood that a final decision is not imminent, Grealish likely to stick to his timetable of making a return to the international scene at the start of next season.
"It's up to Jack where he wants to go. It's purely up to him. What I've got to do is make sure he's got that decision to make. He must be doing something right for Aston Villa if he's got those options. That's my priority," said Sherwood, hopeful that the sideshow over Grealish's international ambitions will not distract the player from next month's Cup final appearance.
"That's the decision he had to make and now Jack has got to make that decision. He has to play a few more times for Aston Villa before he needs to make that decision.
"Then it's up to Jack to decide where he wants to go. I had the same situation with Nabil Bentaleb, who could have played for France but decided to pick Algeria. I did have a chat with him and he asked me what to do. I just said, 'you've got to go with your heart. Do you think you're French or Algerian?" added Sherwood.