19-year-old Jack Grealish has turned down a Republic of Ireland call-up with the likely intent of delaying his final decision of what country he will represent.
Grealish has played for the Republic of Ireland youth setup, but is eligible to play for England having been born in Birmingham, and thus has turned down the opportunity to play for Ireland in the upcoming international window. Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, who had planned for Grealish to be in the squad, labeled the last-minute decision “disappointing.”
“Jack didn’t want to make up his mind at this stage,” O’Neill confirmed at the press conference announcing his squad for the upcoming matches in early June. Should Grealish wish to represent England, he would need to file a one-time switch with FIFA to do so.
“I’m sure that he could in the future (choose Ireland),” O’Neill said. “He didn’t want to make a decision now. I would have liked to have had him training with us for the week ahead of England game. That’s a disappointing aspect.”
Grealish made his Aston Villa debut last season, but burst onto the scene this year, truly making a statement under Tim Sherwood with a pair of impressive displays in FA Cup wins over West Brom and Liverpool, starting the latter and playing 84 mintues. Since that April 19 performance, he has started each of Aston Villa’s three Premier League games, playing the full 90 minutes in all three.
Republic of Ireland is preparing for a friendly against England on June 7 before they take on Scotland in a Euro 2016 qualification match five days later. Following those two matches, they don’t play again until September. O’Neill is already missing Everton’s Darren Gibson and Grealish’s Villa teammate Ciaran Clark due to injury. LA Galaxy attacker Robbie Keane was included in the squad despite a groin injury.