REPUBLIC OF IRELAND veteran Shay Given is convinced starlet Jack Grealish is ready to play senior international football now.
The 18-year-old Aston Villa midfielder is currently at the centre of a tug of war between Ireland and England and has asked for more time to make his decision as he emerges as a genuine talent.
Grealish is on duty with the Republic’s Under-21s this week and 38-year-old club-mate Given is hoping he can be persuaded to continue to wear the green jersey.
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Asked if he had tried to talk the promising Birmingham- born youngster into committing himself to the Irish cause, the goalkeeper said: “Yes, every day. He’s a big talent. He came on against Hull (on Sunday) and he was fantastic.
We all hope he comes to play for Ireland.
“He is meeting up with the under-21s this week and I think the key is not to put too much pressure on him. He and his dad are going to be making that decision, maybe over the next number of months.
“Ideally, we would like him straight away because I feel he is good enough to play straight away, because he is a really talented player.
Hopefully we can keep him in the green jersey.”
The teenager played the final 15 minutes of Villa’s 2-1 Premier League victory over the Tigers, which saw him receive some rough treatment as he went through his repertoire.
Given said: “I think three of them were booked for tackling him. He is very nifty, he is very quick with the ball. He can invite defenders and players on to him, and he is so skilled and he moves the ball so quickly. He’s a real talent.”
Midfielder David Meyler, one of three Hull players among the senior Republic squad which trained in Malahide yesterday, was impressed by what he saw from Grealish.
He said: “They played very well in the first half and we came out and the manager wanted us to get stuck in and get into their faces. Young Jack dwelt on the ball two or three times for long enough for one of our lads to have a swing at him.
“But you know he’s another bright talent and he’s Irish, and these are the ones we have to watch for in the future.”