Grealish rejects O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland squad inclusion, Judge called-up
Promising Aston Villa attacker Jack Grealish has turned down a call-up to Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland preliminary squad for the upcoming international friendly encounter with England and their crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Group D rivals Scotland, but Brentford winger Alan Judge and Aberdeen striker Adam Rooney are senior newcomers.
There has been heated speculation that in-form Villans forward Grealish was set to be included in O’Neill’s plans this year, but the Birmingham-born teenager is still yet to give a definite indication on his international future.
The 19-year-old qualifies to represent Ireland as his father is from Dublin, but Grealish has only hinted strongly at a long-term career with the Boys in Green (15/8 with Coral to qualify), after stating earlier in the year that he was looking forward to “pulling on the green jersey again”, having been named the country’s young player of the year.
Although, Ireland boss O’Neill stated that after a chat with both the player and his father, Grealish has indicated he wants to decide his future at a later stage, but declared there was still a “good possibility” he will play in green at senior level.
“Jack didn’t want to make up his mind at this stage,” said O’Neill. “I’m sure that he could in the future [choose Ireland].
“He didn’t want to make a decision now. I would have liked to have had him training with us for the week ahead of England game. That’s a disappointing aspect.”
Grealish’s decision may revive England manager Roy Hodgson’s attempts to lure the Premier League prospect into featuring for the Three Lions instead, though Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate would be seemingly more likely to enquire about his services this summer.
However, earlier this term, the West Midlands playmaker did originally suggest that he wanted to delay a call-up to the Ireland senior set-up until next season anyway, but O’Neill was keen to involve the youngster against England in order to finally clarify his future.
Sought-after Grealish has earned plenty of admirers from both countries this current campaign after impressive displays for Tim Sherwood’s relegation-battling Villa side, including starring in the FA Cup semi-final triumph over Liverpool last month.
With the help of the internationally undeclared starlet, Sherwood will aim to topple cup holders Arsenal at Wembley and are 9/4 outsiders to claim a historic victory.
There are plenty of the usual suspects within O’Neill’s 33-man squad, with all-time scorer Robbie Keane obviously included, along with Everton trio James McCarthy, Aiden McGeady and Seamus Coleman.
Talented Bournemouth box-to-box midfielder Harry Arter was called-up to the previous squad to face Poland but was an unused substitute and will hope to make his debut this time around, but two new faces include Brentford’s in-form winger Judge and Aberdeen frontman Rooney.
Dublin-born wingman Judge has made four appearances at Under-23 level and has starred for Championship promotion hopefuls Brentford this term, while Rooney has struck 27 goals in all competitions for Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen.
Derryman O’Neill will guide his team out for a friendly against England on June 7 before their vital qualifier against Scotland June 13, as the Emerald Isle aim to secure their place at next summer’s Euro 2016 in France.
Full 33-man Republic of Ireland squad:
Goalkeepers: Forde, Given, Westwood, Randolph
Defenders: R. Keogh, Wilson, Coleman, Christie, O’Shea, Pearce, McShane, Ward
Midfielders: McCarthy, Hendrick, Arter, Whelan, McGeady, McClean, Judge, Brady, Pilkington, Quinn, Meyler, Hoolahan
Forwards: Keane, Long, Murphy, Walters, Doyle, Stokes, McGoldrick, Rooney, Cox