During the last Northern Ireland match Sammy picked up a shoulder injury which kept him out for two or three club games. Norwich’s manager, Glenn Roeder, reacted with consternation.
“The bottom line is he's ended up with a shoulder injury and if he'd been at home with us it wouldn't have happened. There's nothing you can do about it. FIFA are the ruling body and you get sanctioned if you don't let your players go.
I'm at the stage now where I feel like trying to stop them going but I know it's like King Canute trying to stop the tide coming in, you can't do anything about it, they have to go."
Given the circumstances and timing of Clingan’s withdrawal, it is tempting to conclude that Roeder has decided to play Canute regardless.
Sammy Clingan is a player whose confidence and skill have been finessed immeasurably by his involvement in the international set-up. His performances in a Northern Ireland shirt have increased his value and boosted his status as a club player. Even setting aside these considerations, although clubs are ultimately the paymasters for players, international football is hugely important to the health of the sport. It represents the pinnacle of achievement to which all club players must aspire.
When Nigel Worthington managed Norwich City, his treatment of players as personal vassals, whose involvement in international football it was in his gift either to grant or decline, was thoroughly deplorable. Now that the boot is on the other foot, he must ensure that other managers do not abuse him in the same way he abused Sammy McIlroy and Lawrie Sanchez.