Roy Keane has revealed Stephen Ireland could yet have a Republic of Ireland future - after being asked about his chances by the player's 'dead' grandmother.
Ireland withdrew from a squad in 2007, initially claiming one of his grandmothers had died, then the other, before eventually admitting neither had and citing a personal problem as the reason.
However Keane, assistant to manager Martin O'Neill, had a conversation with one of the Stoke midfielder's grandmothers on a flight earlier this week and was quizzed about the prospect of a return.
The former Republic skipper, who coincidentally is due to watch the Potters play Hull in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday, told the Irish Independent: "Well, I spoke with the grandmother this morning, she was on the flight coming over - and she asked me would he get back involved.
"I couldn't lie to her. I said he'd have a chance if he's playing well. I think Martin had a conversation with him, and all that needs to fall into place.
"We all know how talented Stephen is and Martin will look at that. We wouldn't be shutting the door on any player.
"What is important for any player - and Stephen is the same - is it does help to be playing week-in week-out.
"He's obviously had a difficult spell. He's only just got a run of games at Stoke now, so I certainly wouldn't be ruling anyone out."
Ireland, who has not represented his country since 2008, declined overtures to return to the fold during Giovanni Trapattoni's reign, but has hinted he may be ready to revise his position in the wake of O'Neill's appointment.