The new Republic or Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni faces a struggle enticing Manchester City's Stephen Ireland back into international football, with the midfielder possibly ready to draw a line altogether under his short and unhappy career for the country.
Trapattoni has named Ireland in a provisional 40-man squad to face Serbia and Colombia next month and promised to include him in the final list of 28. But Ireland, who has been fearful of returning to the international fold since lying about the death of both of his grandmothers in order to leave the Ireland squad and be with his girlfriend who had suffered a miscarriage, remains to be convinced.
Sven Goran Eriksson, who acted as a go-between when Steve Staunton tried – without success – to entice Ireland back, has already spoken to Trapattoni once on the issue and believes the Italian has more work to do. "I hope that Trapattoni will come here and visit us and speak to Stephen," Eriksson said. "I know he wants to meet [him]. I have spoken to Trapattoni once and he has said that he will come here."
There are also suggestions Ireland has been taunted by team-mates over an alleged hair transplant, or hairpiece, resulting in two team-mates pinning him to the floor and attempting to remove the "evidence". Reading's Irish full-back Stephen Hunt has denied this. "There wasn't even any banter about his hair. It's grown four inches in a year. He knows that," he said.
Ireland has also not forgotten a fall-out with former Irish coach, Brian Kerr, who left him out of an Irish Under-18's side and then told him to watch the match in question from the stands at Cobh, where he started his career. After the Irish lost 4-0, Ireland was asked to return to the Manchester City set-up and was told he would never represent the nation while Kerr was manager. He has only six full caps.