Republic boss Giovanni Trapattoni is still counting on Norwich City midfielder Anthony Pilkington for World Cup bid

Norwich City midfielder Anthony Pilkington was forced to withdraw from the Republic of Ireland squad

Norwich City midfielder Anthony Pilkington was forced to withdraw from the Republic of Ireland squad with a knee injury for Wednesday's friendly against Wales. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City midfielder Anthony Pilkington can still play a vital role in the Republic of Ireland's World Cup quest, according to Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni.

The 25-year-old's knee problem forced him to pull out of a fifth consecutive squad ahead of Wednesday's latest friendly against Wales.

Trapattoni insists Pilkington is still a key part of his plans for next month's qualifying games against Sweden and Austria, along with club team mate Wes Hoolahan who has made the trip to join up with the Republic squad at their Newport base. Hoolahan is poised to feature against the Welsh in an advanced support role to a lone striker and Pilkington was set for his senior Irish debut in a wide midfield role.

'It's a pity because this would have been a good opportunity to see him,' said Trapattoni. 'He has hurt his ligaments and had to pull out with a swollen knee. Hoolahan told me that he has pain and needs injections. I haven't spoken to him directly, but I sent him an SMS saying 'be careful, because if you continue with the injections it could be dangerous for the future'. I am confident about the professionalism of his doctor at Norwich but I also said 'pay attention because we need you in September when we have very important games'. I just made him aware of that.'

Pilkington has not featured during City's pre-season build-up since returning from the club's US tour where he scored in the opening 3-0 win over Mexican side Dorados de Sinaloa. Chris Hughton admitted after Norwich wrapped up their friendly programme with a 2-0 victory over Panathinaikos that Pilkington is not in consideration for the Premier League kick-off against Everton this weekend.


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'At this moment he probably hasn't done enough in the last few weeks to warrant coming into consideration for Everton,' said Hughton. 'We are looking forward to him doing some decent work this week but in terms of Everton he is probably too far away.'

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