ASTON VILLA MANAGER Tim Sherwood has confirmed that he has spoken to Martin O’Neill about Jack Grealish’s call-up to the Ireland squad, but said that he had no input in the 19-year-old’s decision to turn down O’Neill’s advances.
O’Neill attempted to include Grealish in his next Ireland squad but saw his approach rebuffed as the winger declined the invitation so as to focus on his club career.
The Birmingham-born teenager, who has been capped by Ireland at Under-17, U18 and U21 level, rejected the opportunity to join the 33-man provisional squad as he concentrates on Villa’s last two Premier League games and the FA Cup final against Arsenal.
O’Neill described the midfielder’s decision as “disappointing” but Sherwood said the talks with the Ireland boss were “fine” and insisted that the decision will only be made by the player himself.
“I told him [O'Neill] what I discussed with Jack,” Sherwood told reporters. “He was aware of the situation that Jack is not going to make a decision on international football until after the season.
“It’s totally up to Jack. If Jack decided he wanted to play for Ireland now or England now, then it’s up to Jack. The decision was left with him.”
The former Tottenham Hotspur boss also said that he had no idea whether or not Roy Keane’s presence as Ireland’s assistant manager would have any impact on Grealish’s decision. Keane was assistant to Paul Lambert before Sherwood took the reins at Villa Park.
Sherwood added that Grealish’s omission had nothing to do with fatigue due to a lack of experience. “I don’t buy that,” the 46-year-old declared. “Jack’s a man in a kid’s head. Have you seen his legs? He hasn’t got a problem with durability.
“There might be a time when he needs to come out. There might be a time when Alan Hutton needs to come out. When Ron Vlaar needs to come out. I don’t buy it. I don’t give that reason because he’s inexperienced!”