Roy Hodgson tells Jack Grealish to hurry up and pick which country he wants to play for

The Aston Villa player was born in England, but represented the Republic of Ireland at Under-21 level

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Roy Hodgson has told dual-nationality Aston Villa prodigy Jack Grealish that England cannot be expected to wait indefinitely for him to decide his international allegiance, but that he wants the player to commit himself to England.

Midfielder Grealish, 19, has opted out of international football until the end of the season at least, having previously represented the Republic of Ireland Under-21s in European Championship qualification. He was offered the chance by Martin O’Neill to be part of the Ireland senior squad for the friendly against England on 7 June but declined, opening the door to a switch to England, where he was born.

Hodgson said that he would not try to exert influence over the player, and would instead allow him to make up his own mind. The England manager repeated his stance that England players should recognise international football as a privilege bestowed upon them and not the other way around.

“If he doesn’t want to play or has doubts, then don’t play,” Hodgson said. “We want people who want to be there.”

Grealish will become eligible for England Under-21s again after the summer’s European Championship, when a new cycle of Under-21s football begins ahead of the 2017 Championship. Previously he has rejected the chance to play for England’s junior teams, and was approached about playing for Aidy Boothroyd’s Under-20s team at the Toulon tournament next month.

Hodgson said that the FA technical director, Dan Ashworth, and Under-21s coach, Gareth Southgate, had been “in regular contact” with Grealish and his family. “In my opinion, at this young age he’s showing the qualities that will make him a very good future international player,” Hodgson said. “But I don’t want to put pressure on him to play for us if he wants to play for Ireland.

“I don’t know we put a timescale on it but I would be surprised with that matter now in the open if he and his family don’t make a decision when we kick off in the autumn with a new round of international matches. I understand this summer perfectly why he doesn’t want to make the decision. Come the autumn, whoever gets him will be lucky because he is a good player.”

As well as new squad members Charlie Austin and Jamie Vardy, Hodgson selected the Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton, the first England call-up from the club in 41 years since Martin Dobson in 1974. Ashley Young was not selected on the basis that he has what Hodgson called a “slight issue” with his fitness that will be resolved this summer. Hodgson said that the Manchester United man still had a future with England.

Wayne Rooney has been selected despite still suffering from the dead leg he picked up playing against Crystal Palace earlier this month. Hodgson said he had the blessing of United’s manager, Louis van Gaal. “He’s pretty confident he is going to be fit for us. I don’t know if he is going to be fit for the weekend and that is a question for Louis. It’s a dead leg and dead legs can take quite a bit of time, but there’s no doubt about his fitness for us.”

The FA has also changed its unpopular ticket allocation system for away games which gave supporters greater credit for attending home matches at Wembley rather than those overseas. Now England fan members will get two credits instead of just one for away games, which they can use to buy sought-after tickets for overseas matches.

Comments