Exiles can have few complaints if not picked -- McShane
Paul McShane would be the first to acknowledge that his contributions on the by now tedious theme du jour of Ireland's growing band of disappearing footballers might be taken with a cellar full of salt.
After all, his brief Beckenbauer impression aside last Sunday night, the Wicklow man's presence on the international stage remains, to a rump of supporters at least, a source of constant anguish.
Nevertheless, he is here to serve his country, unlike so many others, and, thus, earns the right to add to the growing tensions whereby those within the tent justifiably sneer at the less than enthusiastic mob who can't be bothered to pitch theirs.
"It is a bit disappointing," says the 25-year-old defender, currently out of favour at Hull City and desperately attempting to resuscitate his waning club career on loan at Barnsley.
"I don't really know the situation, I don't whether these players have got injuries. But if they are just not turning up, it's bad for the team.
"You want the players to want to play for country. If they come back in, I reckon the lads will just get on because you have got to try to keep a good atmosphere in the camp.
"But it would be a bit unfair if lads fancy playing next time, if the other lads have done well this time around. It would be a little bit unfair, but you can't get too upset about it, because we need to go out and try to win games. You need to be practical."
Regardless of whether certain players earning telephone number wages decide not to use normal telephone numbers to contact the management, it seems a tad odd that players within the camp have not sought to contact their temporarily exiled colleagues, even if to just subtly impart the sense of chaos their absences have caused.
"I don't have their phone numbers," admits McShane. "I know Marc Wilson having played underage with him. But you sort of lose contact in football, you move on. I only met James McCarthy once and that was one of the games in London."
So, the management aren't the only ones to lose contact it seems.
Surely their return, if countenanced eventually by Giovanni Trapattoni, must lead to some tensions, given the blanket distaste amplified by those who have turned up? Would McShane have a private word in his colleagues' shell-likes?
"I don't know because it's quite a touchy subject. I don't know whether that would be adding fuel to fire. You never know though, it might come up in conversation.
"You might say: 'Where were you last time'. But I don't know, I think you kind of have to play it by ear."
That's if they turn up the next time. Trapattoni has allowed the tiniest shard of light to emerge from a door held tentatively ajar to the disenchanted rump. But McShane believes strongly that their actions have stripped them of any representative rights.
"No, they couldn't have any complaints if they weren't picked for the next squad," he asserts. "You can't be picking and choosing. If you're called up for a squad, I think you should turn up no matter what. Even if you have an injury, let the physio check it out."
Despite his rather esoteric approach to defence, McShane would rarely hesitate when the letter from the FAI pops up in his club's pigeon hole.
"I'd always turn up no matter what. Even if I was injured, if they wanted me over, yeah. I'm just a diehard, I think. I just love it, love representing my country, it's a big honour."
Last Sunday's supremely confident intervention prompted his supporters to chant "Messi" when he set up his captain's record-equalling goal; he espied a newspaper report which craftily reminded all that his time in green has appeared more messy than Messi.
"I feel like I represent the people whether you like it or not," he smiles. "Ah, the criticism is grand, it's part and parcel of the territory. You learn to get on with it."
His last competitive appearance coincided with the infamous Thierry Henry handball, so McShane knows how to cope with Kipling's twin impostors.
Clearly, his approach to Irish impostors also brooks little argument.