July 23 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Wes Hoolahan’s starring role for the Republic of Ireland on their summer tour proved he can still be a force for club and country, insists his Norwich City team-mate Anthony Pilkington.
Hoolahan emerged as a key man for Martin O’Neill’s Irish set-up in four friendlies to prepare the Irish for the start of the 2016 European Championship qualifying campaign in September.
The 32-year-old made only 10 Premier League starts in the Canaries’ top-flight relegation during a season when the Dubliner had a transfer request turned down following interest from Aston Villa. Hoolahan’s future remains a hot topic with Villa and newly-promoted Leicester both touted with summer moves for the midfielder who is entering the final year of his current deal at Carrow Road.
Pilkington was also part of the Republic’s touring party and is a firm believer in Hoolahan’s qualities.
“He’s a great player – everyone in Ireland can see that,” he said. “I’ve said many times I don’t know how he hasn’t got more caps than he has because he’s a great little player. When he does get a run in a team, he shows what he can do, but it’s been difficult for him.
“He’s not had many games for Norwich this past season so he’s not really been match-fit coming into the friendlies, but he’s a really good player, he’s really comfortable on the ball and he can make things happen. When you’ve got players like that in your team, you’ve got to build the team around him because they can always create something for nothing.”
Injuries have hampered Pilkington’s club and international career but the former Huddersfield midfielder is fully committed to the Irish cause.
“Whenever I’ve been fit, I’ve always come over and tried to get myself in the team,” he said. “Just because I’ve missed a few games this season didn’t mean I didn’t want to come over.”