It won't come as much of a surprise to anyone, but it seems Michael O'Leary isn't the only one hoping to sway Jack Grealish's international allegiance. England u21 boss, Gareth Southgate has given perhaps the most cut and dry confirmation that Grealish is being actively recruited by the English set-up.
The family and Jack are aware of our interest. Jack is somebody we have spoken to over the years, him and his family. He has been in our younger development teams.
Grealish has so far opted to keep within the Irish underage set-up despite speculation that Martin O'Neill has been trying to include him in teh senior squad over the past couple of months. However, Southgate doesn't believe that Grealish's underage appearances will have much of an effect when it comes to deciding his where his longterm allegiances lie.
Southgate pointed to the example of Man Utd defender Michael Keane who appeared for Ireland at u17 level before going on to form an important part of the current England u21 team.
Up to this point they have preferred to remain with Ireland. These things are quite fluid at younger ages, it happened with Michael Keane and his brother [Will] and Jonathan Bond came from Wales.
Lots of other home nations are running development camps at a young age so players develop an allegiance quite young. You are allowed to switch once when you are a young player and Jack is someone we are monitoring and we’ll keep our eye on that situation.
Much like the noises coming out of the Ireland camp, Southgate was keen to stress that there has been no undue pressure put on the Aston Villa midfielder. However, now that Southgate has stated the obvious desire, you would imagine speculation over Grealish's future will only increase, particularly if Paul Lambert sees fit to increase his playing time at Villa Park.
I haven’t spoken to him personally but certainly people from our organisation have kept in contact. We have been monitoring him but in the end it’s up to the player.
He’s going to make his decision on where he wants to go. More and more, because of the nature of society, there are several players in our system who are dual nationality and had that choice to make.
Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE