Jack Grealish chooses England over Republic of Ireland

Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish
Grealish has made six appearances for Villa so far this season

Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish has opted to play for England rather than the Republic of Ireland.

The 20-year-old played for the Republic at Under-21s level but turned down a call-up to the senior squad for a friendly against England in June.

Birmingham-born Grealish qualifies for the Republic through his grandparents.

"It was not an easy decision as Ireland has a special place with me through my family," he said. "But I have decided to represent the country of my birth."

Grealish made his professional debut while on loan at Notts County against MK Dons in September 2013.

His first Villa appearance was in May 2014 as a substitute in a defeat by Manchester City.

England manager Roy Hodgson had made it clear to Grealish that he wanted him to represent his side.

However, Hodgson did not pick him to play against the Republic in June, with the England boss saying "it would have been inflammatory at the last minute if he chose us and played".

BBC chief football writer Phil McNulty's analysis

Grealish's decision to represent England at senior level is a big blow to Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill - but a real lift to Hodgson as he plans for Euro 2016.

Aston Villa's 20-year-old has not only selected to play for the country of his birth but also an England side that has already secured qualification for the competition in France next summer.

And that, in itself, guarantees he will be given the opportunity to work his way into Hodgson's squad.

Hodgson will be delighted as Grealish is gifted and with the rare talent of having time on the ball even in congested areas, a quality ideally suited to the international stage.

And with Arsenal's Jack Wilshere again struggling with injury, the addition of another talented young midfielder to England's ranks alongside the likes of Everton's Ross Barkley - plus other emerging stars such as Spurs' Harry Kane and Everton's John Stones - is a welcome lift for Hodgson and England.

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