Jack Grealish’s father and agent has revealed that Martin O’Neill’s attempt yesterday to entice his son into the Republic of Ireland senior fold was mission impossible.
The Aston Villa winger, whose international career is on hold at his own request, declined the offer from the Republic of Ireland manager of making his senior debut against England on June 7th at Aviva Stadium.
Grealish's spectacular recent form at club level, where he's helped Villa move out of the relegation zone and reach an FA Cup final, prompted the Ireland manager to phone his father yesterday just a couple of hours before the announcement of the squad for the double-header which includes the Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland six days later.
"We appreciated the call from Martin yesterday but there was no way Jack was going to accept," said Kevin Grealish.
"I reiterated to Martin what we had told (Ireland U-21 manager) Noel King. Jack opted to take the year out to concentrate on Aston Villa and that decision has proved to be correct one based upon how he's doing lately.
“It would be the same answer if England were to make an approach.
“Villa are still not safe from relegation, so all of Jack’s focus is on the final three Premier League games and then the FA Cup final on May 30th.
“If Villa had nothing to play at this stage of the season, then we might have thought more about it. But now is not the right time.”
He added: “Although Jack has started the last six matches for Villa, he faces major competition for his place.
"The likes of Andreas Weimann and Scott Sinclair can't even get in the Villa team right now because the side is playing so well and getting wins.
“Nothing can act as a distraction to keeping his place. Had Jack taken up Martin’s offer, the level of attention and pressure on him at this late stage of the season would have been enormous.
“Jack will complete the club season, hopefully with an FA Cup winners’ medal, before taking a break. After that, we’ll look at the international situation.”