Dwight Yorke has arrived back in the Caribbean and manager Roy Keane has been left hoping Sunderland’s experienced midfielder is sensible and prevents another verbal battle between club and country.
Yorke turns 37 next month and Keane has made no secret of his belief that his former Manchester United teammate should not play too many games in such a short space of time.
It was a similar situation last month, when Yorke’s refusal to play in both of his country’s World Cup qualifiers sparked anger within the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation.
And, provided Yorke takes a similar stance this time around, he has been told by the Irishman that he will not incur the wrath of the Sunderland boss after proving he can still perform at the highest level.
With T&T due to play a friendly with the Dominican Republic in Port of Spain tomorrow, it is likely to be that fixture which Yorke demands - if any - to be left out of ahead of World Cup qualifiers with Guatemala and the USA.
Keane, however, insists this time around is different, claiming that Yorke is preparing for the Soca Warriors’ latest fixtures fully fit, rather than heading across the Atlantic having just returned to training after recovering from a pre-season injury.
“Yorke has gone, I dropped him off but I am not picking him up though,” said Keane.
“Fingers crossed all of the players on international duty will all come back, no one has any silly trips, we are not too bad with lads on silly flights, only one slightly struggling will be Yorke when he gets back. If he gets back! But he goes there with my blessing.”
Keane famously branded FIFA’s special advisor to the TTFF, Jack Warner, ‘a clown’ in the aftermath of Yorke’s return to Wearside after the last international break.
It was a reaction to Warner’s claim that the Sunderland manager had shown a lack of respect for one international football’s smaller nations.
But there is every chance that Yorke will figure in the World Cup qualifiers scheduled for Saturday and Wednesday, casting a doubt over his place in the starting line-up at Fulham the following weekend.
And Keane, only three months older, readily admits Yorke’s age has to be taken into account whenever he is picking his team - even after such a solid display in front of the defence against Arsenal.
“Can he play every game for us this season? Absolutely not,” said Keane. “Can he do a role for us sitting in the middle of the park? 100 per cent he can.
“That is up to Yorkie, it suits having two in front of him. He can be clever, he has the experience, he can speak to other players, he is a good voice and good character. He brings a good package and when I watched him in training last week, I thought ‘yup Yorkie deserves his little chance back in’.
“He wanted to play for the reserves last Tuesday and I said ‘no, you train well and hard - you will play in the first team never mind the reserves’ and he took his chance.
“It suited us against Arsenal.
Fulham in a couple of weeks will be a different challenge altogether.”
Saturday’s stout defensive display that earned a draw against Arsenal offered further evidence that Sunderland are a team continuing to improve at Premier League level.
Despite recruiting three defenders in the close season, Keane is continuing to instruct his scouting team to look at possible defensive targets ahead of January’s transfer window.
But one player watched in recent weeks, Cesar Arzo, insists he has no contact with Sunderland or any other club in the Premier League.
“I want to demonstrate that I can play a bigger club, rumours of Sunderland’s interest have arrived in the last few days but I have honestly not spoken with any English club,” said Arzo, who has three years of a contract to run at Villarreal and is on loan at Recreativo Huelva.