Former Irish international Niall Quinn has warned James McClean that he must 'kick on' from his midweek tunnel spat at Stoke or else witness the prospect of his career heading into freefall.
McClean, who has regularly been embroiled in controversy during his seven-year stint in English club football, not always of his own making, has endured a difficult start to his career at the Championship club.
But Quinn is convinced that the player he signed for Sunderland seven years ago can emerge from this latest brush with trouble by allowing his undoubted natural talent to shine.
"Players can dip," said Quinn. "As long as James understands what his strengths are and doesn't dip and puts in a performance.
"When you're having these arguments, whether they're verbal or physical in the tunnel, you've got to stand up on the basis of 'Well, I've done what I had to do today'.
"Otherwise, the guys are right to dig him out if he hasn't done what he's supposed to do. It's either spirit-building or detrimental. It's one or the other. If you've a sulker, you dip. If you've got someone who rolls their sleeves up, then you win respect.
"It will be very interesting to see where it goes. I won't be expecting James to be a shrinking violet here.
"Two or three good matches and everyone forgets about the tunnel bust-up. But not doing that, and having these bust-ups and it will fizzle out for him.
Martin O'Neill gave McClean a famous debut within weeks of his signing for Sunderland but the then club chairman admits that the player has often walked the line during his career.
"That's the edge, if you nurture that and his talent into a positive, that's great. You can imagine when Stoke are buying him, they are ringing around," said Quinn.
"What's this fella like? The coaches ring each other.
"I'm sure previous managers will have said, 'he's a fireball, gets things in his head sometimes and it detracts but when he's right, he's a force'. That's what we have to try and get out of him you know."
"You're at nothing if you didn't learn from the pitfalls. I hope James does learn, he obviously has learned because his career is still on track. I hope this drives him on."