SHANE LONG was a surprise omission from the Ireland squad, but the FAI have said that the Tipp native will be called up to face Greece if he gets a positive result from an MRI scan on a sore knee.
The West Brom striker was left out of the provisional 26-man selection, while other players with ongoing injury problems were included -- specifically defender Ciaran Clark and midfield man Glenn Whelan.
That raised eyebrows considering Long's tempestuous relationship with Giovanni Trapattoni, most recently in August when they clashed over his fitness for a friendly in Serbia.
Long has been unhappy with his lack of game time at international level, and cut a frustrated figure during the 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Germany last month.
Trapattoni initially mentioned that Long's absence from the squad sheet was due to a hamstring complaint, but he subsequently gave more weight to a knock to his knee which required examination.
Nevertheless, the Italian acknowledged that the front man could possibly return to action before the Greek encounter. Local media in West Brom were surprised by the news as they were unaware that Long was suffering any difficulty.
"Yesterday, he answered me, or the day before yesterday," said Trapattoni. "We also received an update. He has a knock under the knee. He has to see a scan again, I don't know. Until now, we don't know. I hope he can play Saturday.
"At the moment, the club doesn't think he will be ready and will let us know if they are ready. I would be surprised if he plays on Saturday."
Trapattoni was unhappy with Long in Belgrade when he told reporters he was fully fit after the manager left him out due to a complaint from the player 24 hours beforehand.
His club boss Steve Clarke later supported his striker's version of events by saying that he was able to play the game, yet Trapattoni could not understand why the ex-Reading star said he was in pain on the eve of the match, and described his overall behaviour as "idiotic".
Long has decided against speaking out on the matter, instead concentrating on keeping his head down with a view to forcing his way into the manager's plans for the remaining World Cup qualifiers.
The impressive Jon Walters got the nod ahead of him for the disastrous German game, with Simon Cox selected in a wide role.