Saturday 22 September 2018

Sherwood: Jack Grealish is focused entirely on Villa

Jack Grealish
Jack Grealish

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has explained Jack Grealish put his international future on hold because of the club's Premier League relegation fight.

The talented Villa teenager was criticised by both Republic of Ireland and England fans on social media this week for delaying a decision on which of the two countries to represent at senior international level.

Birmingham-born Grealish has already represented Ireland at age-grade groups but has yet to disqualify himself from representing England at senior level and is at the centre of an international tug-of-war between the two countries for his services.

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill said he was "disappointed" that the 19-year-old midfielder had rejected the chance to join up with the Republic squad for next month's friendly against England and the Euro 2016 qualifier with Scotland, but Sherwood said Grealish's focus is solely on club matters with Villa yet to secure their top-flight status.

"It's not a slant on Ireland, England or anyone," said Sherwood, whose side can guarantee Premier League survival by winning at Southampton on Saturday.

"I don't think Jack didn't want to play for Ireland, I don't think he didn't want to play for England or Brazil for that matter.

"He will make his decision. He's good enough to play international football but he's putting that on hold.

"The case was he was always going to decide on his international future at the end of this season.

"He's got three very important games to take care of for Aston Villa. His concentration is fully on that.

"Jack hasn't made his mind up what country he wants to represent but the good news is they all want him.

"It's a decision only Jack has to make in a cool, calm situation at the end of this season."

Grealish has been in outstanding form in the last month as Villa have closed in on Premier League safety and reached the FA Cup final against Arsenal on May 30, starting the club's last six games.

Sherwood has been praised for his part in Grealish's development but said he would have no input on the final decision over the player's international future.

"If he wants guidance from me, unfortunately, I can't give it to him," Sherwood said.

"Only Jack and his family can make that decision.

"But Jack has done very well. He's very confident. a great guy and a good kid.

"He wants to improve and that's what I've learnt. He's not changed since the day I walked in here."

Villa have won three of their last four league games, including the last two against Everton and West Ham, to be the masters of their own destiny.


And even if they lose at Southampton they will be safe from the threat of relegation should Hull lose at Tottenham on Saturday.

"We're confident. I'm glad we've got ourselves in a position where we have a chance of retaining our Barclays Premier League status," Sherwood said.

"We're still fighting to stay in the division. We need the points but we know it will be a difficult game down there.

"Losing becomes a habit and I believe winning can become a habit, too.

"The concentration is on staying in the division and then trying to lift some silverware at the end of May."

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