Former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Jack Grealish has decided to pledge his international allegiance to England.

The Aston Villa midfielder had been stalling his decision on where his international future lay, with both Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and England boss Roy Hodgson eager to have Grealish commit to their teams.

And now Grealish, who has represented Ireland from Under-15 level through to the current Under-21 side, has opted to pledge his future to the Three Lions.

Grealish released a statement explaining that the decision was a very difficult one as his family have strong connections with Ireland, but has decided to "represent my country of birth".

"I have decided to give my allegiance to England," said Grealish. 

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

He could now be named in the England squad for their upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania.

Grealish, who is the current Ireland Under-21 player of the year, turned down a call-up to the senior squad for a friendly against England in June.

Grealish's club manager Tim Sherwood has always been relaxed about the situation, advising the nascent talent to take his time making the decision.

Last week Sherwood insisted he would not even accept a bid of £60million for the promising midfielder.

He said: "I think England already recognise that he is a talent they would like to secure the services of.

"I'm not sure they want to do that for the short term - for the championships next summer - but he is still a young man, still learning, he has every opportunity. It is certainly a stage where people take note and have a look.

"He is certainly a type of player we have seen at the very top level for the likes of Liverpool and in the past for Aston Villa, we have to recognise that. He's not a shop window job, he's our player, and we couldn't put a price on him. I certainly wouldn't. I wouldn't want to sell Jack Grealish for £60million today."

Grealish has been with boyhood club Villa since the age of six and, after a successful loan spell with Notts County where he made his professional debut in September 2013, he made the breakthrough into Villa's first team last season.

He has since played 21 league games for the claret and blues, scoring his first goal this month in a 3-2 defeat at Leicester.

RTÉ Soccer correspondent Tony O'Donoghue said the news will bring disappointment, but also relief that the episode is over.

He said: "There is no doubt Martin O’Neill will be disappointed by Jack Grealish’s decision, but perhaps the most important thing is the saga is finally over and everyone can move on.

"Grealish said it wasn’t an easy decision, but the simple truth is the talented midfielder has opted to play for the country of his birth.

"He and his father held talks with Martin O’Neill recently. England manager Roy Hodgson also expressed his interest in the Birmingham-born player who has become a regular in the Aston Villa side. Whether he is chosen for the Euro 2016 qualifiers remains to be seen."