Manchester City boss Sven Goran Eriksson has revealed he held crunch talks with Stephen Ireland after a series of controversial incidents.
Ireland has been in the news a lot recently, for reasons only loosely associated with football. Apart from the shorts, there was the matter of inventing funerals for his two - and living - grandmothers as excuses for missing an Ireland match and City's game against Aston Villa, and remarks attributed to him on a website to the effect that "Football is s**t". Some over-the-top ribbing in the Ireland dressing-room over his alleged hair transplant has been blamed for his problems, but Eriksson is sure they are in the past.
"After what happened I sat down with Stephen," Eriksson said. "I showed him the FA's letter. I don't think he hates football. He loves to play and he loves to practise. He comes out in a T-shirt and shorts, even if it's freezing cold for a Swede. He runs so much he doesn't feel the cold. I think he's a good boy. When we were young we all had some problems.
"He's playing very well and scoring beautiful and important goals that win games for us. It seems he was frustrated every time he went with the national team, but now he's calm, training very well, working very hard."