Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has said Jack Grealish has 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.
Ireland manager Martin O’Neill said he was “disappointed” 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 was 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 tomorrow.
“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.”
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 30th, 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.”