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There hasn’t been a lot of football news recently except Ireland has a new manager in Stephen Kenny. It’s because there isn’t any football aside from the league in Belarus every league in Europe is paused which is bad news for Jack Grealish.
A football player drunkenly crashing his car after a party would make the press at any time, but in the case of the often-troubled Aston Villa midfielder, the timing couldn’t be worse. While we can’t say for sure Grealish was intoxicated at the time of his collision, he certainly looked the worse for wear in pictures of the incident, and he shouldn’t have been out of the house in the first place.
This could turn out to be a deal-breaker in Grealish’s career in more ways than one. He’s been one of the very few bright spots for his club in a season that – until it was postponed – looked likely to end in relegation straight back to the Championship after just a single campaign back in the top flight. He’s attracted plenty of praise from influential names for his performances as Villa’s captain, and there was talk of a move to a bigger club in the summer. Both Manchester United and Liverpool had been mentioned as potential destinations. He’s been a loyal performer for Villa for many years, but he’s clearly capable – in terms of football ability, at least – of playing at a higher level, and the smart money said that this would be the year that he got his chance.
It was also likely to be the year that Grealish was called upon to represent England at international level. His absence from the national side has become a talking point, and even though there are several young English players capable of doing a competent job in midfield, Grealish’s eye-catching displays for Villa were pushing England manager Gareth Southgate to the point where he’d surely be forced to give him a closer inspection and a chance at some point in the near future. Southgate is a cautious manager and values the character of his players as much as he does their technical abilities, but a star of Grealish’s quality can only be ignored for so long. He might not have made the final squad for Euro 2020 if the competition were still going ahead, but he might have had the chance to make an impression in a friendly or two.
Sadly for Grealish, this high-profile misdemeanor is likely to cost him on both fronts. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been trying very hard to build a squad of dedicated, trustworthy players at Old Trafford, and if Grealish can’t stay out of trouble, he’s unlikely to fit the bill. Jurgen Klopp is also unlikely to take a risk on a player that can’t be trusted at Liverpool either. In terms of England, he might have pushed his first cap a year or two away even if he plays out of his skin when the season resumes. Rewarding badly-behaved players with caps isn’t the England way, and Grealish’s well-publicized drunken incidents of the past have been held up by some as the reason that it’s taken him this long to play himself back into contention. Having finally done that, he’s now almost certainly written himself off again with one bad decision.
While England might not be interested in Grealish for the foreseeable future, Ireland might be. Putting faith in Grealish is a gamble, there is a new manager and that always sparks things up and maybe Grealish might fancy playing under Kenny.
The Irish are a nation of gamblers. That’s the reason that many of the games you’ll see on online slots websites have Irish themes. Look up any one of the hundreds of sites that offer online slots, and you’ll see leprechauns, pots of gold, lucky horseshoes, and harps on the reels. ‘Rainbow Riches’ might even be the most popular casino with paypal of all time. The Irish are happy to take a punt if there’s a chance of claiming a big win because of it, and Grealish fits the bill perfectly as a risky – but potentially rewarding – bet. Giving him the platform to play for an international team might even encourage him to buckle down and focus on football rather than frivolity. He’s in his mid-twenties now, and it’s high time that he grew up.
There’s nothing stopping Grealish from playing for Ireland other than his own stance on the matter. He’s played for Ireland at under-21 level and was called up to the senior side in 2015 when he was only 20. His grandparents are Irish, and so there are no issues with his eligibility. He hasn’t been considered since that initial call-up because he publicly declared his allegiance to England, but if England isn’t interested in using him, then their loss could be Ireland’s gain if Grealish can get his head screwed on and focus on the sport that he has such a prodigious talent for playing. It certainly wouldn’t hurt for the Irish FA to ask the question once the season resumes.
We understand that some people would be against such a notion, and that’s understandable. Nobody wants the Declan Rice situation to repeat itself. Rice changed his stance on playing for Ireland because England wanted him, though. Grealish changed his stance because he wanted England. They’ve never capped him, and after this latest career setback, they may never cap him in the future either. Ireland isn’t blessed with great options in midfield. A motivated and committed Grealish would be a welcome addition. When the dust has settled, it’s probably worth someone at least exploring the possibility of him changing his mind again and rejoining the international side he first wore the shirt of.