Norwich City midfielder Anthony Pilkington is an injury doubt for Premier League opener after Republic of Ireland withdrawal

Anthony Pilkington had to settle for a watching brief.

Anthony Pilkington had to settle for a watching brief. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City midfielder Anthony Pilkington is an injury doubt for the Premier League curtain-raiser against Everton on August 17 after officially being withdrawn from the Republic of Ireland squad for next week's friendly against Wales in Cardiff.

City kick-off their season just three days after the midweek round of international friendlies and Pilkington was again absent for Tuesday's latest friendly 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad at Carrow Road with a fresh knee injury picked up on the club's USA tour. The midfielder scored in the opening match of that trip against the Mexicans Dorados de Sinaloa and also featured against San Jose Earthquakes, but has not been involved since the squad returned home.

'We're just managing a slight problem with his knee at this moment in time,' said City boss Chris Hughton, speaking after City's draw against the Champions League hopefuls. 'He is another one who did the first part of pre-season and he did very well. Of course when it came round to these most recent period of games we have not been able to use him but we are hopeful that he is going to be training next week and to push on from there.'

Pilkington was also forced to pull out of Giovanni Trapattoni's previous three Republic of Ireland squads for World Cup qualifiers and early summer friendlies in a bid to rest a knee problem which had limited his involvement for the Canaries towards the end of the last Premier League season. City defender Sebastien Bassong also faces a race against time to feature against the Toffees after undergoing knee surgery which has so far kept him out of Norwich's entire pre-season build-up.

'He's had a very minor operation in the summer, which has set back his pre-season,' said Hughton, when questioned at last week's open training session. 'Of course it's always that race to try and get him fit for that first game of the season. What is more important is that he makes sure he does his rehab in the right way because it's very much about the whole season and not just one or two games.'


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John Ruddy was not involved against Sociedad to rest a back problem suffered earlier this week in training but Hughton expects the keeper to be in contention for Saturday's pre-season finale against Panathinaikos.

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