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Anthony Pilkington. Photo by: Google Images

Sports Digest: Anthony Pilkington finally gets his chance with Ireland

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Anthony Pilkington. Photo by: Google Images

Norwich City winger Anthony Pilkington could be thrown in at the deep end by Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni after finally turning up in Dublin.

Pilkington failed to appear no fewer than five times in the last 12 months after he was called up by the Irish manager.

But the English-born, former Ireland under-21 cap eventually made it onto a training pitch with the Irish World Cup squad on Monday.

And he could be handed his debut in the make or break Group C clash with the Swedes at the Aviva Stadium on Friday night.

The 25-year-old, beset by a string of injuries, has stated his commitment to the Irish cause and insists he is ready to prove it on the pitch.

Speaking after his first training session with the squad, Pilkington said, “It was five times in the end that I couldn’t come over, so it was frustrating, very frustrating.

“The first time I was ready to come over that night, so it was obviously very frustrating. But that’s behind me now and hopefully I can crack on and do well.

“Obviously I can see why people started talking, but I would have been no good to anybody coming here and playing with a dodgy knee or playing with a torn hamstring.

“I wouldn’t be helping anybody, I wouldn’t be helping myself or the country, so people need to realize that I had the injuries.

“I was always committed. The first time I had to pull out, my bags were packed ready to come over.
“We had a morning game and we were due to fly out, me and Wes Hoolahan, after the game and I got injured during the game.

“Like I say, I would be no good to anybody coming over here with a bad hamstring and saying I was fit if I wasn’t.

“But I am here now and I am excited for the game. I’ll hopefully get in a good week’s training and hopefully we can pick up the points we need on Friday.”

Trapattoni has again hinted that QPR defender Richard Dunne could make an immediate return to the team against Sweden on Friday night.

Center-back Dunne has only played four games for new club QPR this season and has admitted he is far from up to speed after a year out with a groin injury.

Dunne said, “From a personal point of view things are going well but I am still just trying to get back to fitness. It feels like very early days for me yet and it is really tiring.

“I’ve got four games under my belt already, but it will take another five or six matches to get up to speed.”
Trapattoni watched Dunne in action for his club last week and is prepared to start him against Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Trap said, “For QPR, I have seen Richard play with the same authority and personality, commanding the other defenders. I think we need him. Against a strong player like Zlatan Ibrahimovic we need a strong defender like Richard.”

Millwall goalkeeper David Forde is also set to come back into the team after a knee injury kept him out of the friendly against Wales last month when Keiren Westwood deputized.

“David Forde has no problem. I spoke with Alan Kelly and with David also. He is very confident, his knee is not swollen.

“His performance is very good,” Trapattoni said.

“The goalkeeper is a particular role and you cannot change this. At this moment, we will continue with David who has no problems.  But we have Westwood, we saw in his game that he did very well and he is also ready.”

Trapattoni has called Bristol City defender Greg Cunningham into the squad as cover after Marc Wilson reported for training on Monday with a foot injury.

Goalkeeper Darren Randolph is also receiving treatment for a thigh strain but expects to be fit for the games against Sweden and Austria.

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