Northern Ireland Under 21 manager Steve Beaglehole believes that Shane Ferguson was never tempted to switch allegiance to the Republic of Ireland despite failing to respond to senior call-ups by former boss Nigel Worthington.
Ferguson is in Beaglehole's squad to face Serbia on Tuesday in a Euro 2013 qualifier in Coleraine, providing further evidence of his commitment to Northern Ireland after a year which has seen him ask not to be considered for U21 duty and twice fail to respond to phone calls from Worthington.
The Newcastle United defender has already earned a senior cap, in a friendly against Italy two years ago, but is not yet tied to the country as it was not a competitive international.
There were strong rumours that he intended to follow the likes of Darron Gibson, Shane Duffy, Paul George and James McClean and take advantage of a Fifa ruling by pledging himself to the Republic, but it later transpired a personality clash with Worthington was a more likely reason for his absence.
Beaglehole, meanwhile, insists he has never had a problem with the left-back.
"I've had no reason to believe he wasn't happy with Northern Ireland, he never 'left' us as far as I'm concerned," he said.
"He and I had a conversation in the summer and he said he didn't want to be picked for an U21 match against the Faroe Islands.
"He had a lot going on - he'd had a good season at Newcastle and there was a lot of hype about him going to the Republic. People read a lot into that and made comments and assumptions that weren't true.
"He never said to me he didn't want to play for Northern Ireland. We understood his reasons and respected his reasons, but he hasn't come back to us because he'd never gone."
Northern Ireland, who were beaten 1-0 in the reverse fixture in Belgrade, lie fourth in their qualifying Group 4 with four points from as many matches.