ROY KEANE will travel to Middlesbrough tomorrow to check on the progress of Shay Given, thus delivering a clear indication that the Irish management are strongly considering an international recall for the Donegal veteran.
Given retired from Irish duty after Euro 2012, but subsequently hinted that he was willing to come back after he fell out of favour at Aston Villa.
Intriguingly, it is his old foe Keane that will make the journey to the north-east to watch Given at the Riverside Stadium. Given, capped 125 times for his country, is the only Irishman in either camp.
The pair have a chequered history. In 2007, Keane accused Given of hoovering up caps in search of a pat on the back. "I think players have agendas -- certain players come over all the time no matter what," he said.
"I think Shay's one of those -- he wants to get 200 caps."
"Maybe he (Keane) has something against me" said Given at the time. "But that's his opinion and he is entitled to his opinion."
Reconciliation has been a theme of the past three months, however, and the reality is that O'Neill and Keane have to seriously assess their options in the goalkeeping department.
Keiren Westwood is recovering from a shoulder operation and he may be fit before the end of the season.
His continued absence means that Millwall's David Forde, a Sunderland target, is in pole position to start March's friendly with Serbia, with Birmingham's Darren Randolph as back-up.
When the new Irish ticket was appointed, Given offered the view that Keane could learn man-management skills from O'Neill. "Some people can be frightened of Roy and they go into their shell, but Martin will only help him to encourage players," he said.
"Martin and Roy are great football men, both Irish, but the problem is they can't buy players," he continued. "It's up to them two guys to find some gems, and nourish the team we have and improve them."
Given has impressed in the second tier since he found a short-term escape route from Villa, keeping five clean sheets in his nine appearances to date. He believes that a prolonged spell on the sidelines allowed several recurring injury complaints to heal and wants to play on into his 40s.