By Liam Mackey
Martin O’Neill today described a recent meeting with Jack Grealish and his father as “fruitful”, adding that he expects a decision on the player’s international future imminently.
Speaking at his latest squad announcement at FAI headquarters in Abbotstown this afternoon, the Ireland manager said: “The situation with Jack is that I had a conversation with him and his father a week or ten days ago.
“I thought it was pretty fruitful and Jack – I think he will decide very, very shortly.
“He and his father agreed that it’s about time they were going to do something about. Fine, if he’s worth waiting for that in that sense, not necessarily for me but for the future of ourselves then so be it. He’s got age on his side and he’s a very decent talent.”
“I’m pleased I’ve had the conversation. They were receptive to what I was saying.”
As he had done previously, O’Neill said he emphasised the point in his latest discussion with Grealish that he believes the player would stand a much better chance of getting games with Ireland than England, but he also acknowledged that it is “a big decision” for the Aston Villa starlet to make.
Of more immediate concern for O’Neill are next month’s Euro qualifiers away to Gibraltar (in Faro) and at home to Georgia, with the manager at pains to stress that Ireland can’t afford to take either game against the perceived group minnows for granted.
“We have to win both games,” he said. “It’s essential. We’re still well in the group and capable of qualifying but six points is absolutely vital. The Gibraltar game is so important. We cannot afford to slip up at all. We need to go as strong as we can.”
Today’s provisional squad announcement saw the inclusion of Bournemouth’s Eunan O’Kane, who earns a first senior call-up.
He is joined in the 37-man squad by the uncapped duo of Brentford’s Alan Judge and Aberdeen’s Adam Rooney, while there is also a recall for left-full Greg Cunningham of Preston North End.