Roy Hodgson hot on Jack Grealish

Roy Hodgson is doing his utmost to entice Jack Grealish into the England fold but the player’s father insists Ireland remain very much in the mix to keep the winger onside.

Roy Hodgson hot on Jack Grealish

The Aston Villa teen is agonising over his international future, having met both Hodgson and Ireland manager Martin O’Neill in recent weeks, with a decision due by the end of September.

It means O’Neill’s offer to afford the youngster his first senior cap either against Gibraltar and Georgia early next month will not be accepted.

At least the Derryman can take some solace from the fact Grealish won’t be wearing the colours of the Auld Enemy either during the international break.

O’Neill earlier this week described his talks — also attended by super-agent David Manasseh — as “fruitful”. Hodgson too has made his pitch, and the dilemma will be settled by the player alone.

“Jack will be 20 next month and is well able to decide for himself which country to play for,” his father Kevin said last night. “David and I were at the meetings but we’ll have no role in the outcome.

“As was the case at last year’s meeting, we were very impressed by Martin O’Neill. He’d like to have Jack in his squad but he’s not putting any pressure on him. It’s a big decision — much bigger than anything at club level. Contracts may last for four years but declaring for a country is for life.”

Of his young player’s quandary, Villa manager Tim Sherwood said: “It is up to Jack. It doesn’t impact on what I do. If it becomes a problem to Jack, then it becomes a problem for me. He is quite cool about it, relaxed. He has got to make that decision, whether he is English or Irish. He has a chance to get into both teams. But it is too early at this break as he hasn’t played first-team football this season.”

Grealish could feature for Villa against Crystal Palace today after a scoring return for Villa’s U21 team this week following the hamstring strain he suffered at a pre-season training camp in Portugal.

He will be eager to get the focus back on what he does on the pitch after the controversy he courted during his summer holidays, when pictures emerged of him face down in the street while on holiday in Tenerife. Sherwood said: “I will back him 100%, he is such a talented boy. I love him to death and I hate him at the same time! I want to nurture him to fulfil his full potential.

“He did annoy me in the summer, but he annoyed himself. Hopefully the penny has dropped with him. Young kids make mistakes. But they come through it. He is a one-off — and he is a one-off on the pitch. He has come through it and we need to move on now.” Villa have beaten Bournemouth and lost to Manchester United so far this season and Sherwood believes the return of Grealish and Carles Gil — who also played midweek — could provide the creative spark that has been missing.

“That is what we need, we need Jack and Carles,” said Sherwood. “It is unfortunate two of the most creative players in the side have been injured at the same time. Now they are getting back to fitness, it will change us going forward. I think they could play together. If anyone watched them play for the U21s, you can see they suit each other’s game. They pass the ball to each other and they enjoy each other’s company. They are offensive players with a good technical ability so they can take us forward.”

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