STOKE CITY boss Tony Pulis admits that he left Ireland man Glenn Whelan out of the side for the season finale in the Premier League yesterday because of the "distractions" over a training ground prank at the club.
Stoke are investigating the background to an incident which saw Whelan's car damaged, reportedly in the aftermath of a joke which saw a pig's head left in the locker of team-mate Kenwyne Jones.
Whelan was not in the 18-man squad for the 1-1 draw with Southampton.
"I wanted players down here who haven't been distracted by what has happened," he said. "I spoke to both Kenwyne and Glenn.
"I just didn't feel that it was right to bring them down here with everything that has gone on."
There was some Irish concern in the game when Marc Wilson was forced to withdraw after only 20 minutes and his fitness will be assessed as he's due to report for international duty ahead of the friendly against England at Wembley on Wednesday week.
BOYS IN GREEN ON COACHING COURSE
A BATCH of Ireland internationals are working on their coaching badges this week.
Current internationals John O'Shea, Andy Keogh, Keith Andrews, Stephen Kelly, Paul McShane, Jonathan Walters and Glenn Whelan are due to report for Ireland duty next Sunday to prepare for the four-game series of matches involving England, Georgia, the Faroe Islands and Spain. But this week they are working on their UEFA A and B coaching badges, thanks to the FAI.
"Next week may just see a potential new Ferguson or Mourinho being born," Andrews joked.
HENRY HAS A HAND IN KEANE'S MISERY
THIERRY HENRY got one over on Robbie Keane in the MLS after the Frenchman's New York Red Bulls nicked a late, late winner against LA Galaxy.
Keane and Henry were facing up to each other for only the second time since France's controversial play-off win over Ireland in 2009 and once again it was Henry who finished on the winning side. In injury-time, Tim Cahill popped up to score the only goal of the game.
NEW-LOOK GULLS RELEASE IRISH DUO
CHAMPIONSHIP side Brighton have confirmed that Irish pair Gary Dicker and Marcos Painter have been released. The Seagulls are still counting the cost of their failure to reach the promotion play-off final and the club have started making changes to the squad.