Norwich's Anthony Pilkington withdraws from Republic of Ireland squad

 

Norwich winger Anthony Pilkington has been withdrawn from the Republic of Ireland squad, the Football Association of Ireland has confirmed.

Pilkington scored for the Canaries in their 3-2 win at Manchester City yesterday, but because of a knee injury will not be fit for the friendly against England at Wembley on May 29 and the game against Georgia in Dublin on June 2, in preparation for the qualifier against the Faroe Islands at the Aviva Stadium five days later.

"The Football Association of Ireland today (Monday) confirmed that Anthony Pilkington has pulled out of the Ireland squad for their upcoming summer games under the advice of Norwich's medical team," a statement from the FAI said.

"Anthony will undergo treatment on his knee over the coming weeks in preparation for the season ahead. There has been no replacement called up."

The 24-year-old - who qualifies via his Dublin-born paternal grandmother and was capped by the Republic Under-21s in 2008 - has been forced out of Trapattoni's plans once again to allow himself enough recovery time over the summer, during which he will also get married.

However, while it is clearly a disappointment not to be involved for the games, which end with a trip to face European champions Spain in New York, Pilkington feels the added time off will set him up for the challenges ahead of both club and country in 2013/2014.

"The (Norwich) management and the physio have pulled me out - I have been struggling with my knee so I need to get treatment through the summer and an extra four games is not going to help me through pre-season," Pilkington said in the Eastern Daily Press.

"I need a rest and I need the treatment that I am going to be getting through the summer in the off season, so hopefully I can put that behind me and come back pre-season 100% fit.

"It is unfortunate these injuries have popped up at the worst times for me, but like I say, I have got to put that behind me now, get right for next season and then hopefully see if I can get back in the (Ireland) squad."

Pilkington added: "It wouldn't be right for me to go away and then come back in pre-season struggling.

"I have had to manage the (patellar tendon) injury towards the end of the season and because of my knee, I have picked up a few hamstring injuries.

"So I will go away in the summer, work hard, get 100 per cent fit and come back flying."

Trapattoni intends to use the upcoming matches as key preparation on the road towards the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

During their time together at the end of this season, the manager will have one eye on the Group C clashes with Sweden, Austria, Germany and Kazakhstan which will determine their destiny later in the year.

"This trip creates the chance to work with the players for a longer period than usual in order to bond and plan for the remainder of our FIFA World Cup qualifier games," Trapattoni said.

"These matches will provide me with the opportunity to experiment with different players and tactics."

Skipper Robbie Keane, who has missed Los Angeles Galaxy's last three games with an ankle injury, has been included, along with Aiden McGeady.

However, there were no places for Ciaran Clark and Kevin Doyle, who both have fitness problems, or defender Richard Dunne, who could yet train with the squad after spending the entire season on the sidelines, providing the FAI can gain permission from his club, Aston Villa.

Trapattoni will whittle down the original party next month after taking injuries into account.

Ireland lie in fourth place in their group after allowing a 2-1 lead over Austria to slip at the death in the last qualifier in March, four days after securing a creditable 0-0 draw in Sweden.

All three sides currently have eight points, half the total amassed so far by leaders Germany, who have played a game more than Ireland and the Austrians and two more than the Swedes.

Austria and Sweden meet in Vienna the same night as the Republic attempt to complete a double over the Faroes following their 4-1 victory in Torshavn in October.

PA

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