The situation regarding Middlesbrough goalkeeper Darren Randolph is as clear as mud.
The 32-year-old has missed the Teessiders’ last three Championship fixtures due to a thigh injury picked up on international duty.
Randolph is also one of the nine players who Jonathan Woodgate revealed would miss Saturday’s trip to face Queens Park Rangers.
However on Thursday there was a twist as the club announced that Randolph had been named as part of the Republic Of Ireland’s squad for their upcoming internationals.
Supporters were naturally baffled by the decision based on the fact that the goalkeeper hasn’t featured for Middlesbrough during recent weeks, but all may not be as mad as it seems.
Here are the reasons why Darren Randolph’s international call may not be all bad news for Middlesbrough fans.
The potential of him being fit to face Queens Park Rangers
It might be an optimistic slant, but Darren Randolph’s call to the Republic Of Ireland squad could actually be a good thing for Middlesbrough.
If the goalkeeper has been called up, it’s likely that the Ireland set-up have contacted Jonathan Woodgate’s staff to run the rule over his fitness.
If Middlesbrough have said that he’ll be ready, then it could mean that Randolph has been passed fit behind the scenes for a surprise recall against QPR.
It would certainly be timely given the fitness doubts of Aynsley Pears, and let’s be honest, Middlesbrough certainly need him.
Should Middlesbrough's Darren Randolph be allowed to go on international duty while injured?
A break from negativity
With Middlesbrough in a terrible run of form, the opportunity to get away could be ideal from the playing squad.
Jonathan Woodgate’s side are on a run of eight games without a win, and that sort of form is bound to affect morale at Rockliffe Park where the players train every day.
Putting fitness to one side, the opportunity for Darren Randolph to have a change of scenery for a week-or-so could do wonders for the goalkeeper who could return refreshed and revitalised.
After all, Middlesbrough are certainly going to need him at his best.
A Middlesbrough man to keep a close eye on him
If Darren Randolph is not 100% fit then at least Middlesbrough have an inside-track on ensuring that he isn’t risked in the upcoming internationals.
As well as being assistant manager for Jonathan Woodgate, Robbie Keane is also part of the coaching set up with the Republic Of Ireland, meaning that he’ll have a say on team selection.
While Keane will undoubtedly want what’s best for Ireland during the break, his Middlesbrough allegiance will surely ensure that he pipes up to Mick McCarthy to ensure that he isn’t risked unnecessarily.
After all, we all know it would be an awkward conversation if Darren Randolph suffered another injury setback while on Robbie Keane’s watch.