Jack Grealish: England call-up ‘feels like trial’ after late inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s squad

Jack Grealish’s debut England call-up ‘feels like a trial’ after his late inclusion in the squad, the Aston Villa captain told Sky Sports.

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Grealish was added to Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Nations League double header with Iceland and Denmark, exclusively live on Sky Sports, only after the withdrawal of Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford last weekend, with a call-up long-mooted for the Villa midfielder – but only finally arriving this month.

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The 24-year-old told Sky Sports when he made the switch in international allegiance from Republic of Ireland to England back in 2015 he had not expected at the time it would be another five years before he would visit St George’s Park as a senior team member – but was determined to make the most of his opportunity now.

He said: “It’s more or less like a trial at the moment, coming in for the first time, and hopefully I can show [Southgate] what I can do in training.

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“I’ve had Gareth as a manager before for the U21s and loved my time with him. It’s him as a manager. I’ve been here for two days and I can see what type of manager he is. He’s made time for everyone, been around to everyone speaking to all the lads and staff, and I can tell it’s a very tight-knit group here.

“He wants to build on that, lads to come away with England and enjoy it and want to play for their country which I know for a fact that everyone does.

“I’ve had a bit of an unusual career, I was 19 when I said that I would like to change from Ireland to England, and at the time I didn’t think it would take five years.

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“I had a chat with my parents, with Roy Hodgson who was the manager at the time, but you know it didn’t happen for certain reasons. We ended up getting relegated that season, and I’ve been in the Championship for three years now so it’s just a relief it’s finally come and hopefully I can be here to stay.”

Grealish represented the Republic of Ireland at U17, U18 and U21 level before making the switch to represent England – but said he never once regretted the decision while waiting for his first inclusion in a senior squad.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve felt like I’m English,” he said. “My family are English, it was just my grandparents who are Irish and when I was a young kid I was playing for Ireland because that’s what felt right.

“It felt fun, if anything. But then as I got older, I felt English, I felt like I could get into the England team, and get into the senior team, and now here I am.”

Call-up chat ’emotional’

Grealish had not been expecting to be joining the England set-up at all over the international week after being omitted from Southgate’s initial squad last Tuesday – but could not have been in much more appropriate setting for him to receive the call to tell him of his inclusion.

“I was over the moon, it’s a call I wasn’t really expecting,” he said, “but when someone from Villa got hold of me to tell me Gareth wanted to speka to me, it was obviously a massive, massive moment for me, something I won’t forget.

“Sunday evening it was. I was just at home with my family, it was something I wasn’t really expecting, but I took it and it was obviously a call I don’t regret not answering!

“I was in the lounge at my house, my family were there, it was my little sister’s birthday. We were just about to go out for some food, so my dad, my mum and my two little sisters were all there. It was something I will never forget. Now that I’m finally here, I can’t wait to get started.

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