The RTE panel discussed the Jack Grealish situation last night during the Champions League coverage, and took a very different view than fellow commentator Kenny Cunningham.
Cunningham said on Tuesday he thought Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill should make no further approaches to the teenager, after Grealish this week rejected the chance to join the senior squad.
“He doesn’t want to join up with the squad, he doesn’t want to take the invitation to join up with the rest of the players,” Cunningham said. “So that’s it for me, we move on without him.”
That opinion was not shared by last night’s panel, with Eamon Dunphy suggesting the player should be allowed time to decide which country he wants to play football for.
“We should be patient and hope he signs for Ireland,” Dunphy said, before adding that he felt O’Neill and assistant manager Roy Keane may have damaged rather than improved realtions with the player.
“Remarks made by O’Neill and Keane have not been helpful to the cause.”
Keane made sarcastic comments about Grealish’s father, who is advising his son on the decision between Ireland and England, while O’Neill suggested as recently as last month that the footballer was not ready for senior competition.
Jack Grealish has excelled for Aston Villa this season.
Liam Brady also felt heshould be allowed time to make the decision, and he also rejected any suggestion that England might not even be interested in the 19-year-old.
“They’ve been trying to talk the lad,” he insisted. “I know this because I know the people that work at youth level.
“They’ve been trying to talk him round to playing for England in the last few years but he’s decided that he wants to play for us. I had hoped that would continue on.”
However Brady was pessimistic about O’Neill’s chances of securing Grealish: “I fear the fact that he’s dwelling so long means that we may not get him”.
This view was echoed by the third panellist last night, Richie Sadlier.
“He made this statement that he’s out of international football until September to concentrate on club football,” Sadlier said. “He’ll be back for the U21s then. That doesn’t add up.
“For me, I would be surprised if he plays for us again.”