Sherwood: It’s more important for Grealish to work hard

Jack Grealish: Dropped by Remi Garde

Jack Grealish: Dropped by Remi Garde

Tim Sherwood has defended his decision to block Jack Grealish from training with England and says it is more important to work hard at Aston Villa.

The midfielder has pledged his international future to the Three Lions after choosing them above the Republic of Ireland.

Birmingham-born Grealish represented Ireland at under-21 level as he qualified through his grandparents but after his decision national manager Roy Hodgson was keen on bringing him to train with England during the international break, with Grealish waiting for his new international registration.

Villa want to keep him at the club to work on his match fitness after he missed most of pre-season with a hamstring injury and, ahead of Saturday’s visit of Stoke, Sherwood insisted it is the right call.

He said: “He’s missed pre-season and the last international break when we wanted to get some training into him, he was injured. So we’re going to use this opportunity now.

“If he was called up for the squad then he’d be going but he wasn’t. Roy asked me and said he would like to invite him there and introduce him to the boys and get a feel for St George’s Park.

“I thought it was better for him to stay here and work hard. We’ll use this time to get him fit for the remainder of the season. He won’t be alone, a few of the boys are doing exactly the same.”

But Sherwood warned the 20-year-old he must focus on his Villa form if he stands any chance of gatecrashing Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2016.

He said: “He’s not playing for England unless he is playing for Villa. It goes for every player, they need to play for their club side and play well to get picked by the England manager.

“Roy is at a lot of our games and he is always looking. He’s going to make that decision based on how Jack is playing for Aston Villa.”

Villa are third bottom in the Barclays Premier League and two points adrift of fourth-bottom Stoke but Sherwood, who will be without Adama Traore (ankle) and has a doubt over Gabby Agbonlahor (calf), dismissed suggestions they are in a relegation scrap yet.

“It’s too early to put us in a relegation battle. It’s not what we wanted for the return of points. We’re a young group, a new group and I’m confident we’ll be okay,” he added.