Mark Noble yesterday proved what an asset he could be to Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland as West Ham were narrowly beaten by Arsenal at the Emirates, courtesy of a headed goal from Alex Song's two minutes from time.
Strong rumours have been circulating in recent days that the former England under-21 captain, born and bred in East London but 'Irish' by virtue of one of his grandparents, is close to declaring for Trapattoni's side and may well be included in the squad for the friendly against Norway on 17 November at the Aviva Stadium.
Irish assistant manager Marco Tardelli was at Upton Park on Wednesday when the player came off the bench on 72 minutes with West Ham 1-0 down to Stoke City in the League Cup. Noble contributed richly to his side's comeback that evening and was a force again yesterday.
With a neat touch here, a clever pass there, he was involved in all of West Ham's best play while the player's 30-yard run and rasping drive on 35 minutes forced Lukasz Fabianski into a very important save.
His delivery from set-pieces, which he deliberately placed as close as possible to Arsenal's keeper, were also extremely effective on the day.
Trapattoni, who must surely be keeping a close eye on the player, will also have been impressed by Noble's energy and discipline. Playing in a three-man midfield alongside Scott Parker and Luis Boa Morte, Noble kept as much of an eye on his defensive duties as his attacking ones.
All in all, he would represent a significant addition to the Irish ranks. The Noble camp have been quiet on the rumours this week but, interestingly, have not gone out of their way to dismiss them out of hand. Trapattoni names his squad for the Norway game on Friday.