OWEN Coyle, a one-cap-wonder for Ireland who was born in Scotland, believes that players like Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy can be proud of their Scottish heritage even though they have played for Ireland.
Glasgow lads McGeady and McCarthy can expect to get some stick from the visiting supporters when Ireland host Scotland on Saturday, a feeling Coyle knows all about as two decades ago he spurned the offer from his native Scotland to declare for Ireland, winning his sole senior caps in 1994.
All three men share a Donegal background and former Burnley boss Coyle now coaching in the MLS, retains his affection for both nations.
"I want both Scotland and Ireland to qualify," Coyletold The Scotsman.
"I've known Aiden since he was a teenager and I know his dad, John, as well.
"James McCarthy also played for me at Wigan. Aiden and James are very proud of where they grew up, but they made a football decision. That doesn't diminish how much they feel for the country they grew up in. They don't forget their background.
"I am equally proud of where I come from and the fact I was born in Scotland and that I'm a Gorbals boy.
"But we would also spend every summer in Ireland, the full eight weeks of the holidays, so it felt natural for me to play for Ireland. It was a comfortable part of my culture.
"Aiden McGeady got a lot of stick from the Scotland fans at Celtic Park. I think he was a bit shocked. Maybe it was done to put him off his game, and if it was, it worked. But he'll be keen to do well in Dublin," added Coyle, who feels that Scotland's away form of late gives them an advantage on Saturday.
"Ireland can't really afford to lose this game," Coyle admits.
"That would create a huge deficit and leave them with too much ground to make up on Scotland, so that maybe allows Gordon Strachan's side to soak up the pressure and hit on the counter attack. Scotland have played very well away from home under Gordon.
"But don't forget, Martin got Ireland a draw in Germany. I am sure there will be twists and turns in this group to the end."
After spells in England with Wigan and Burnley, Coyle is now in charge of MLS side Houston Dynamo.