Sunday 23 September 2018

'jack will stick to his guns'

Kevin Grealish: We would have turned Hodgson down too



KEVIN Grealish has insisted Martin O'Neill was barking up the wrong tree when he rang to discuss naming Jack in Ireland's squad for the England/Scotland ties in June.

And he is adamant that the response O'Neill was given over the phone yesterday morning is the same Roy Hodgson would have been given if he had placed a call - Jack Grealish will not pull on any international jersey until September.

"We appreciated the call from Martin yesterday but there was no way Jack was going to accept. It would be the same answer if England were to make an approach," said Kevin Grealish.

"I reiterated to Martin what we had told (Ireland U-21 manager) Noel King last September. Jack opted to take the year out to concentrate on Aston Villa and that decision has proved to be correct based upon how he's doing lately.

"Villa are still not safe from relegation, so all of Jack's focus is on the final three Premier League games and then the FA Cup final on May 30.

"If the team had nothing to play for then we may have thought more about it. But not right now. Although Jack has started the last six matches for Villa, he faces major competition for his place.

"Nothing can be a distraction to keeping his place. Had Jack taken up Martin's offer, the level of attention and pressure on him at this late stage of the season would have been enormous.

"Being English-born and having Irish relatives, Jack would probably get booed by both sets of fans if he played in their meeting next month.

"Jack will complete the club season, hopefully with an FA Cup medal, before taking a break. After that, we'll look at the international situation."

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