Grealish 'must make his mind up'

Grealish 'must make his mind up'

REPUBLIC of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill insists that Jack Grealish will have to make a decision on his international future soon.

Having declined the opportunity to be involved in the upcoming June games with Scotland and England Grealish ‘must make his mind up’ according to O’Neill.

“I think at some stage or another, let’s be fair about it, I think Jack’s got to make his mind up,” O’Neill said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

“He really has got to make his mind up. I think that would be the message coming from not just me personal,y but probably coming from club level as well. At some stage or another he makes his mind up.

“Now Jack’s been born in England, his father’s been born in England — I can genuinely understand those ties. That’s really understandable. And I’m sure if England were to come calling that’s something that might be hard to resist for him. But I don’t think England have been calling. I don’t know that for certain but I don’t think they have.

“Roy Hodgson is entitled to do whatever he wants. I would not be discussing it with Roy. He sees the same things that I would see. Roy is dealing with experienced players and even the younger lads at this moment that he has are vastly more experienced than Jack at club level.

“I would certainly not rule out him playing for Ireland. I would not rule that out at all. But I think that this is a decision, as a young kid, he will have to make and stay with for the rest of his time as a professional player.”

O’Neill felt the time was right to include Grealish, but defended his own decision of not trying to meet Grealish.  “Sometimes along the way you have to have a gut feeling about these things and my own view, from my conversations with him in the past, I’m not so sure that going to visit him would have done the trick. That is just my view. You might tell me it would be worthwhile at the end of it all.

“I’ve been considering this (approach) since he’s come to prominence. I didn’t see it becoming a major issue before. And it’s not just because I’m meeting you here, but I understand that Jack didn’t really want to make his mind up.

“I just wanted an idea. I really didn’t want to be putting pressure on him, I think that’s the main thing. That he’d come in for the week, get himself involved and maybe it might just have topped off a really brilliant end of season for him. He might have been walking into the camp with an FA Cup medal. A winner’s medal. That is very possible so he would have been on an absolute high.

“I didn’t want to pressurise him with these games coming up but I felt that — not that Tim Sherwood would share this — Aston Villa, with that last victory on Saturday, have done enough for them to stay up (and so), there’d be a massive relief around the place and he (Grealish) might be in the position, over the last day or two, to think about it and maybe it might be a type of release for him. But, no is the answer.”

“Five or six weeks ago, when I was asked the question ‘did I think he would be ready for the Scotland game’, the answer was I didn’t think that was the case.  I didn’t think that he had played often enough in the side. When he was getting on for Villa he was getting on for the last 20 minutes. You can either do brilliantly as a sub or not get a kick, but that wasn’t going to tell me anything.

“But since he has got the games and started to now make an impression, I was prepared to put him into the side, not to worry too much about it. When someone playing at underage level for us is starting to make an impression in the Premier League, I have no problem thinking ‘hold on, is this a change’?

“Fitness too is now something that is less of a concern to him and that run of games he’s getting in pressurised matches is starting to stand to him in really good stead. So, yeah, it was a change there to think that he could do it.”