Club versus country could take on a whole new meaning when the A-League gets under way, with Sydney FC likely to become unwitting victims of their own success.
For years the Socceroos have battled European clubs for the release of players. Now Australian clubs may get caught in the squeeze. Sydney FC may be the worst affected. Apart from a clutch of homegrown players hoping to catch the eye of Socceroos coach-elect Guus Hiddink, they have two foreigners, Dwight Yorke and Terry McFlynn, who may be called away for World Cup qualifiers.
Yorke, 33, will certainly be needed by Trinidad and Tobago as they look to qualify for the finals for the first time, starting with a key match against the US in early August. Yorke may miss both the pre-season final (on August 20) and up to four A-League matches, depending on how Trinidad's campaign progresses.
Sydney FC have no intention of standing in his way, and Yorke made no secret of his international ambitions when he chose to come to Australia ahead of the UAE. He makes his debut for Sydney in Saturday's pre-season fixture against the New Zealand Knights at Aussie Stadium.
"Whether I play in Sydney or Dubai, or wherever, the coach [Leo Beenhakker] knows I'm capable of lifting my game to international level," he said.
"Playing in the World Cup is the biggest event for a footballer, and it's what's missing from the mantelpiece. For four years I retired from international football … I didn't feel Trinidad and Tobago was a team which was going places. Now I have the desire again. After talking to people back home I felt I should give it one more go. I didn't want it to be something that would haunt me for the rest of my life."
But if Sydney FC factored in Yorke's World Cup commitments when they signed him, the emergence of hard-working midfielder McFlynn has caught them by surprise.
Derry-born McFlynn, 24, played for Northern Ireland at every level up to under-23s but the step up to the senior team has so far eluded him. A professional career that began promisingly enough at Queen's Park Rangers was on the way to oblivion before he was offered a trial with Sydney FC.
After spending the past 3½ seasons in English non-league football (Woking, Margate, Morecambe), McFlynn has found a new lease of life in Australia. He admits his career was "going nowhere" before he came to Sydney. Now he is a fixture in the first team in his holding role, and pondering an international recall - perhaps as soon as Northern Ireland's next World Cup match on September 7 against England in Belfast.
"As a footballer you want to play at the highest level, and representing your country at senior level is the highest level. Hopefully one day I can achieve that, it's always been the dream," McFlynn said.
"Before I came I spoke to [Northern Ireland] under-23s manager Roy Miller, who's a close personal friend, and told him I was coming to Australia. I asked him if that meant I was closing the door on a future with Northern Ireland, and he said not at all. I haven't worked with [national coach] Lawrie Sanchez, but he's turned the team around and I would love to get my chance."
Given that Northern Ireland are not over-endowed with talent, Sanchez could certainly do worse than give McFlynn his chance. His terrier-like tackling, tactical discipline and simplicity of passing have delighted Sydney FC coach Pierre Littbarski.
McFlynn credits Littbarski with his rejuvenation. "If you'd told me 12 months ago I'd be playing for Sydney FC with Dwight Yorke and working under Pierre Littbarksi, I would have said you were taking the piss," he said. "It's the best thing I've ever done, the best move I've ever made. I have to pinch myself at times, and I can't wait for it all to start.
"In the few months I've been here, I've learned more from Pierre than I did in 10 years under various coaches in England. His knowledge of the game is second to none … It's just an honour to work with him every day."