Tim Sherwood has challenged Jack Grealish to earn the right to play for England by sustaining top form with Aston Villa.
The 20-year-old, who was eligible to represent Republic of Ireland, confirmed this week that he will pledge his international future to England, where he was born.
Sherwood – who said he learned the news only via Grealish’s Twitter announcement – has now urged the midfielder to keep up his performances for Villa if he is to seal a spot in Roy Hodgson’s plans.
“I was told about what Jack had said on Twitter. That was how I heard,” he said. “I wouldn’t have had a bet either way on what he was going to do.
“I’m happy to go along with it – it’s his decision to make. But he won’t be playing for England or anybody if he’s not playing well for us, so that should be his motivation.”
Sherwood also confirmed that Villa requested Grealish be omitted from the latest England set-up given his injury problems in the early part of the season, although the midfielder was not eligible to be called up for the Euro 2016 qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania as he waits for international clearance.
Villa take on Stoke City on Saturday with just two points separating them from Sunderland at the foot of the Premier League, but Sherwood insists talk of a battle against the drop is premature.
“It’s too early to put us in a relegation battle,” he added. “It’s not what we wanted for the return of points. We’re a young group, a new group. I’m confident we’ll be okay.
“It’s my job with the group of players we have to make sure we get up the league.
“I know the job comes with pressure – that’s part and parcel of it. I’ll stand up as manager and the players must stand up as players.”