When the Republic of Ireland and former Reading strikers Kevin Doyle (Wolves), Shane Long and Simon Cox (both West Bromwich Albion) get together after today's local derby at The Hawthorns, there will be plenty to talk about, not least who is selected in Ireland's Euro 2012 play-offs against Estonia in place of the suspended Doyle.
His red card against Armenia last Tuesday capped a bad couple of days, coming as it did 24 hours after his agent and sometime mentor Mick Wallace was ordered to repay €19 million (£16.55m) to the Irish bank ACC, which leaves him facing bankruptcy.
Founder, owner and former manager of the First Division club Wexford Youths, where Doyle spent three seasons, Wallace is one of the most colourful figures in Irish football – and public life, having been elected by a large majority as an Independent MP for Wexford in this year's general election only 20 days after announcing his candidature, which Doyle publicly supported.
With his long white hair and pink shirts, Wallace cuts a flamboyant figure; he made his money in property development, owning a whole street in Dublin's Italian quarter, but has become a victim of Ireland's financial woes. He started Wexford Youths as a junior club, using only local players and winning five All-Ireland titles at Under-18 level. Wallace took Doyle under his wing, admiring the striker's attitude and approach.
"I want players who care, who want to be part of something special and, most importantly, players who are honest on and off the field," Wallace wrote on the club's website recently in a scathing review of an Under-19 match. "If this means losing some of our more talented players, so be it."
How new rules measure up
As clubs all over Europe get to grips with the implications of Uefa's Financial Fair Play regulations, legal eagles from Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, West Bromwich, Derby and Blackpool will attend a seminar on the subject in Manchester tomorrow organised by the Kings Sport Network, formed by the Kings Chambers. It will consider issues such as whether any ban from European competitions would be restraint of trade. If Derby and Blackpool's interest seems over-ambitious, it should be pointed out that the Football League have already introduced their own version of FFP, based on the ratio of wages to income.
Stand up for Radcliffe
Craig Dawson's impressive displays at centre-half for England Under-21s – and three goals in four games for them – have been a matter of rightful pride at Radcliffe Borough, the Greater Manchester side in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League. Their chairman is Bernard Manning Jnr, whose father was a lifelong Manchester City fan (at his funeral it was claimed that he supported them "through thin and thin").
Manning Jnr is keen the club should be given credit for finding Dawson's best position, switching him to central defence from midfield: "He certainly didn't shine there. We saw what a big, strong lad he was and he was powerful in the air, so we turned him into a defender." After two seasons at Borough and only one at Rochdale, Dawson was snapped up by West Bromwich, who loaned him back, then gave him a Premier League debut this season.
Almost instant dismissal
Bahrain's Rashed Al Hooti is thought to have set an international record with a straight red card 43 seconds into last week's match against Iran for jumping into a tackle. Sheffield Wednesday's Kevin Pressman holds the Premier League record (13 seconds) after handling outside his area against Wolves in 2000, and Chippenham Town's David Pratt once went after three seconds for a tackle against Bashley.
A fond memory is of Sheffield United accepting a magazine's fair play award before a 1991 game against Manchester City; Vinny Jones – possibly concerned at this slur on his reputation – received a yellow card after four seconds and then a red one in the second half.