Jack Grealish poised to commit to Ireland senior squad
Highly-rated Aston Villa teenager who was wanted by England likely to play against USA
Ireland’s Jack Grealish clashes with Ermin Alic of Montenegro in an under-21 tie earlier this year. Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
A strong afterglow from the Republic of Ireland’s strong start to the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign is poised to burn brighter by the probable enlisting of Jack Grealish’s services to the senior squad.
The Aston Villa youngster is unlikely to feature in Ireland’s next qualifier on November 14th in Glasgow, with Martin O’Neill expected to keep faith with those players who secured a memorable 1-1 draw away to the world champions Germany, but a full debut four days later against Jürgen Klinsmann’s USA is on the cards.
O’Neill’s paternal instincts were abundantly clear in August when he acceded to a request by the Aston Villa winger to be allowed to delay a decision on his international future amid more immediate priorities at club level.
While the 19-year-old has been highly-rated for some time, his impressive early-season cameos as a substitute for Paul Lambert’s side provoked interest from a number of leading clubs, including Manchester United and Chelsea.
The situation was compounded by the fact that his contract runs out next summer, with negotiations on a new one continuing over the past three months.
But the youngster signed a four-year deal on Tuesday, which allayed fears at Villa they would lose their star academy graduate and allowed attention to turn to Grealish’s international future.
England’s pursuit of the Birmingham-born playmaker had been flagged, yet under-21 manager Gareth Southgate appeared to up the ante a fortnight ago by confirming the ongoing contact between “our people” and Grealish.
It’s believed the English FA’s previous two approaches to Grealish were led by Kenny Swain, who at the time was coaching England’s under-16 side.
Swain is revered amongst the Grealish family for being a key member of Villa’s 1982 European Cup-winning team, so his shock departure from the English FA just two months ago didn’t do much to assist their cause – not that his influence would have proved decisive.
It’s understood that such a late reversal by Grealish is inconceivable. Ireland’s next competitive fixture after the Celtic Park showdown against Scotland doesn’t come until next March when Poland visit Dublin.
The four-month gap will afford Grealish the platform to convince O’Neill of his readiness for inclusion in a squad already top-heavy with wideman.
That challenge won’t faze Grealish. With the uncertainty over his contract now over, he’s determined to build on his encouraging start to the season by first breaking into the Villa line-up.
The in-demand starlet tweeted to his 30,000 followers, “COYBIG” (Come On You Boys In Green).