AFTER dropping himself firmly in the manure when he suggested that Leon Best needed an energy transplant, Giovanni Trapattoni has dived further into the mire by leaving the Toon striker out of his extended squad for the Euro 2012 play-off against Estonia.
Remarkably, and despite Roy Hodgson's clear indication that Shane Long will be out for six weeks after the knee injury he sustained when Alan Hutton came close to breaking his leg last weekend, he has named the West Brom striker in his squad.
Perhaps he has spoken to Long and the Tipperary man has given him some hope that he could yet be fit, but it does seem like a foolish outbreak of wishful thinking.
There is no room for Kevin Kilbane, who must now feel that his time as Ireland international footballer has come to halt.
Trapattoni has chosen to omit another striker and squad exile Anthony Stokes from his panel while he waits for a definitive word on Robbie Keane from Los Angeles.
Galaxy meet the NY Red Bulls over two legs with the first kicking off in the Red Bull Arena on Sunday night and while it is thought unlikely that the Ireland captain will be fit to play a full role, a possible match-up with Thierry Henry is on the cards for the return at the Home Depot Centre on Wednesday.
Trapattoni will watch both games carefully and pray that Keane is involved. In the meantime, he could spend some profitable hours in Newcastle at some stage over the next week smoothing over relations with Best.
Perhaps Stokes should try the same approach in reverse given the fact that Trapattoni was clearly annoyed in June when the Celtic man pleaded tiredness for his no show in the run-up to the Nations Cup games.
Assuming Best is open to a chat, the only question then is whether he will survive the rough and tumble of two Premier League weekends and whether he could yet be in Dublin when the squad gathers in ten days time.
Best indicated earlier in the week that he was ready and waiting to answer a call if it came, but that he was more than a bit taken aback by Trapattoni's less than flattering comments about him.
This followed on from a trenchant defence of Best's energy levels, fitness and commitment by Toon boss Alan Pardew, who suggested that Best should have been named in the squad for the two qualifiers against Andorra and Armenia
Trapattoni, as expected, saw no reason to include form man Wes Hoolahan in his 26-man squad or indeed Anthony Pilkington, who have both been on fire for Norwich.
The message from Trapattoni is that he will stick with what he knows until the play-off with Estonia is decided, one way or the other, and let the future look after itself.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND SQUAD
Shay Given (Aston Villa), Keiren Westwood |(Sunderland), David Forde (Millwall), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Paul McShane (Hull), Stephen Kelly (Fulham), Stephen Ward (Wolves), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Sean St Ledger (Leicester City), Darren O’Dea (Leeds), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), James McCarthy (Wigan), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Keith Andrews (Ipswich), Keith Fahey |(Birmingham), Darron Gibson (Man Utd), Andy Keogh (Leeds), Damien Duff (Fulham), Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow), Stephen Hunt (Wolves), Liam Lawrence (Portsmouth), Robbie Keane (Los Angeles Galaxy), Kevin Doyle (Wolves), Simon Cox (West Brom), Jon Walters (Stoke), Shane Long (West Brom).