Whatever about the chances of Stephen Ireland and Joey Barton seeing eye to eye for the rest of the season — or either and anyone for that matter — far too many Republic regulars have been featuring far too infrequently for their clubs.

Shay Given remains stuck in a rut at Man City and might even be pining for those crazy days on Tyneside by now, while Robbie Keane finally heeded Giovanni Trapattoni’s contrary advice to go to Timbuktu to get first-team football if need be; even suggesting the US before West Ham. (After all, he and Claudine aren’t due back on ‘The Late Late Show’ for another nine months at least.)