IN-FORM NORWICH WINGER Anthony Pilkington has pledged his international future to the Republic of Ireland, despite calls for him to be selected by England boss Roy Hodgson.
The 24-year-old has been in blistering form for the Canaries of late.
He scored the only goal against Manchester United last month, while he also netted and assisted Wes Hoolahan’s winner in the 2-1 victory over Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
Norwich have gone ten league games unbeaten – only Barcelona have a better record in the top five European leagues – and the Blackburn-born player has been instrumental in that success.
Pilkington was contacted by Giovanni Trapattoni three weeks ago and asked to sort out papers to ratify his allegiance to the Irish cause, while he has been watched several times – including this weekend – by the Italian and his assistant Marco Tardelli.
“I have had a call from the Republic and they are now starting to sort out all the paperwork. That’s where we are at the moment,” Pilkington said after the win over the Latics.
“But their next game isn’t until February so we will just have to wait and see what happens now. We just have to sort out all the paperwork and then go from there really.
“I am definitely eligible because my grandmother comes from Ireland, from Dublin. So I would be more than happy to play for them, if I am selected.”
Trapattoni has spoken enthusiastically about Pilkington, who was one Irish under-21 appearance from 2008 to his name. That, however, was not in a competitive game so he could still, in theory, declare for England.
“I haven’t spoken to Roy Hodgson about him. England have a lot of players at their disposal. I can say with certainty that he is very interested to play for us. We might be able to see him in early February,” said the Irish boss.
Norwich manager Chris Hughton became the first black player to play for Ireland in 1979 and he says he would be delighted to see his player turn out at the Aviva Stadium.
“At this moment he still hasn’t been officially called into any squad,’ Hughton said. “I’m always delighted for any player to be involved at international level. I think it enhances their career and there can be some real high moments in their career.
“For me (playing for Ireland) was a decision that I have never, ever regretted. Anthony’s a very mature young man and any big decisions he has to make he’s very capable of making.
“If that happens then I’d be delighted with him, but of course that’s always going to be down to himself,” added Hughton, who made 53 appearance for Ireland before his retirement in 1991.