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Hodgson pondered Jack Grealish call-up

SoccerBy Sunday World
Grealish close to an England call-up
Grealish close to an England call-up

Roy Hodgson resisted the temptation to call up Jack Grealish to the England squad because he did not want the Aston Villa midfielder to receive a hostile reception if he made his debut in Dublin.

Grealish has come to be regarded as one of the most promising midfielders in the Premier League after finding form recently under new Villa boss Tim Sherwood.

Despite being born in Solihull to English parents, the 19-year-old has represented the Republic of Ireland at youth level as he qualifies for the country through his grandfather.

Last week Republic manager Martin O'Neill said Grealish had turned down a call-up to the senior squad and that the player was considering switching allegiance to England.

Grealish is yet to make a decision, but Hodgson was mindful that any call-up to the England squad this month would mean the player would be in line to make his debut against the Republic on June 7.

Given that next month will be the first time that England have played in Dublin since the Lansdowne Road riot of 1995, the match is likely to be charged with emotion and Hodgson did not want to put the teenager in that situation.

"I would not have picked him on this occasion because it would have been inflammatory at the last minute if he chose us and played against the Republic of Ireland," the England manager said.

Hodgson his keen to ensure he gets a chance to use Grealish moving forward, but he is happy to wait until next season for a decision from Grealish, a player he rates highly.

"He's a very talented footballer," said Hodgson. "He can manipulate the ball in tight areas, he's a very technically gifted player, he's a player who like so many of our younger players is able to play without fear - which is very nice.

"We've been in regular contact with him and his family and his advisers. He's fully aware that if he wants to play for England we'd be very happy to take him.

"But he has to 100 per cent be allowed to decide himself and it should not be in particular telling him to change allegiance if that is not what he wants to do."

Hodgson has told the player he must be sure he wants to play for England before being called up.

He said: "If he doesn't want to play or he has doubts, then don't play.

"We are doing them a favour by picking them - not them doing us a favour by turning up."