James McClean is fighting fit as he waits for the all-clear to rejoin training at Stoke City.
The midfielder is a 10-day isolation period after a positive Covid test while on international duty with Republic of Ireland, meaning he misses the Championship matches with Huddersfield Town today and Norwich on Tuesday.
But he has been pretty much asymptomatic – and even if he was tired a few days ago, he’s already in his home gym waiting for the green light.
He needs two negative tests after 10 days on his own before he’s allowed back into Clayton Wood.
Michael O’Neill said: “Yes, he feels fine. He had a little bit of tiredness last week when he was with Ireland but he’s been working away in his gym at home.
“It’s hard to keep James down in terms of recovery and stop him doing exercise. He’s feeling ok within himself and we look forward to him coming back once he’s gone through the isolation period.”
He added: “James has come back into the side and has certainly had an impact. We know what he brings to the team in terms of his work rate, quality and energy off the left hand side.
“Unfortunately this is the situation we find ourselves in with positive tests.
“We had this earlier in the season with Liam Lindsay and Morgan Fox and it’s the nature of the situation we find ourselves in as a squad.
“James will be back hopefully on Wednesday so will miss the next couple of games.”
Joe Allen and Ryan Shawcross update
As McClean waits, Joe Allen and Ryan Shawcross are also getting closer to a return.
O’Neill said: “Joe and Ryan both trained this morning with the squad. It’s still early in terms of being ready.
“With Ryan, the intention is for him to play in the under-23s on Monday.
“We had looked to get a game last week during the international break but unfortunately with Covid that was difficult to organise.
“It’s just a little bit tricky to get players back in that situation, who are coming back from long term injuries.
“It’s good to have Joe on the training pitch but he still needs to build up his strength.
“For Ryan it’s about getting game time now, getting through the games and proving he’s durable.
“Both players have done incredible work in their rehab, they’ve been incredibly diligent. Hopefully they’ll be back soon.”
He played for both clubs
Stoke City went to such lengths to quietly sign Ramadan Sobhi that the chief scout pretty much had to watch him in disguise.
Ramadan’s two clubs in England meet this weekend when Huddersfield head to the Potteries, with both having made a profit on a winger, now still only 23 and still combining potential with celebrity status back home in Egypt.
He was the kind of player who could light up social media by standing on a ball in a fiercely competitive derby match, who added more than 200,000 followers to Stoke’s Facebook page almost overnight and persuaded the club to launch their own official Arabic Twitter account.
It is far removed from almost any other transfer in Stoke’s history and, although it didn’t ultimately work out as everyone had hoped, he has still gone on to captain his country to the Olympics – and a Premier League return, in time, isn’t out of the question.
So it was worth Kevin Cruickshank’s undercover trips to North Africa.