Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Chris Hughton has questioned the wisdom of the latest round of international friendlies wedged into a crucial phase of the Premier League season.
Norwich City trio Anthony Pilkington, Alex Tettey and Ryan Bennett have all pulled out of national squads over the past few days, but Hughton still faces an anxious wait before Scotland duo Robert Snodgrass and Russell Martin, along with the Republic’s Wes Hoolahan, report back safely to Colney.
Hughton has already accepted his preparations for Fulham’s pending Premier League visit to Carrow Road will suffer a degree of disruption.
“It is something we could absolutely do without,” he said. “With the internationals at the weekends you know you have good recovery periods, but to squeeze a game between two league fixtures is very tough. There is not a lot of time for anyone who gets a knock on the Saturday to be ready for midweek and vice versa. What will happen is anyone who does go off and play a full game on the Wednesday night for their country is back at some stage on the Thursday and then spends Friday recovering. I think it is more the worry of injury; you would settle for them playing if they are going to be fully-fit for the Saturday.
“But there are a lot more clubs who will have far more international players away than us, so I think probably it balances out a bit, but it’s certainly not a good position.”
City midfielder Pilkington was poised to earn his first senior cap for the Republic of Ireland before picking up a hamstring injury in the early stages of City’s 0-0 draw at QPR last weekend. Hughton carved out a distinguished international career as part of the Irish set-up which saw him play in both the World Cup and the European Championship finals, and the Canaries’ chief is in no doubt Pilkington can take the same step in time after finally being drafted into Giovanni Trapattoni’s plans.
“I think it was overdue. He had been very much knocking on the door,” said Hughton. “In fairness to Anthony I think it wasn’t only about his form, but also his eligibility. There was a bit more to it than just his performances but I was really delighted for him. Just for him to be involved and to have a chance to play on a regular basis in the future is something very exciting for him.
“I think it is fair to say if you are involved in an Irish squad it is not going to be the same strength perhaps as an England or a France squad. The Irish set-up has always had to use that real good feel that you can generate within the group to try and get the best out of those players. He certainly has ability and I think he is also a good age. He is not a real young one who lacks experience and he won’t let anybody down.”