The Sunderland manager Steve Bruce would have only positive things to say about Andy Reid if the Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni gave him a call. The 27-year-old midfielder found himself struggling to command a regular place at club level and out of the reckoning on the international stage during the second half of last season.
However, with new manager Bruce in place, Reid returned for pre-season training having shed more than a stone and has not only forced his way back into the Black Cats side, but proved one of the club's most influential figures during a promising start to the campaign.
But for all his form and fitness, Reid remains out of favour with Trapattoni, whose determination to match players to his preferred system has been richly rewarded with results, but sparked a continuing debate over one of the more naturally talented players at his disposal.
Asked what his response would be if he were contacted by Trapattoni about the Dubliner, Bruce replied: "He has been arguably our best player for a month. But Trapattoni is a bit more experienced and better than I am, so that's his call."
Reid will be an interested observer when the veteran Trapattoni attempts to guide the Republic to next summer's World Cup finals in their final two Group Eight qualifiers against the current World Cup holders, his native Italy, and Montenegro in October.
He may foster hopes of winning a reprieve from a manager of whom he famously fell foul after Ireland's qualifying victory over Georgia in Germany last year should the Irish make it to South Africa, but in the short-term Reid's focus will remain on Wearside.
Sunderland face a daunting trip to Old Trafford to face Premier League leaders Manchester United this weekend, and then welcome Liverpool to the Stadium of Light after the international break.
Those two fixtures will provide a stern test of Bruce's rebuilding programme.
Reid has started the last four games, with his left-midfield rival Kieran Richardson having operated at either left-back in the absence of the specialist defender George McCartney or in a central position further up the field.
But he is in the team on merit having delighted his manager with both his application and his attitude.
Bruce said: "He has not missed a day's training since pre-season. The penny had dropped with him that you have to be in some physical condition to play in the Premier League, it's as simple as that.
"The singlemost thing that defines the Premier League to a Championship player is the physical condition of the Premier League teams is fantastic. If you are not physically capable, it does not matter how much ability you have. Andy has to take the pat on the back – I am not taking any responsibility for that at all.
"He thought to himself in the summer, 'Right, I am going to go away and do something about it and not be ridiculed anymore', and to be fair to him, he has done extremely well since.
"I can only say well done to him," added Bruce.
Meanwhile, the manager has admitted he should not have drafted summer signing Lee Cattermole straight back into the team for Sunday's 5-2 victory over Wolverhampton.
The 21-year-old had missed the previous two games with a heel injury, and was replaced at half-time.
Bruce said: "That was a mistake on my part. He wanted to play desperately and knowing the kind of kid he is, I made a decision.
"He had only trained one day – he had been out for two and a half weeks – and it was a mistake. In the Premier League, if you are not 100 per cent, then you get found out. I take the responsibility for that."Reuse content