IRELAND manager Giovanni Trapattoni was dealt a blow to his preparations for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria after Norwich winger Anthony Pilkington was ruled out for the games.
Pilkington pulled up injured during his side's 0-0 draw with Southampton in the Premier League yesterday and the FAI has confirmed today that he will not be available for either game.
It is understood that he has suffered a reoccurrence of the hamstring injury that kept him out of the Poland friendly last month and Norwich medical staff have ruled him out for a number of weeks.
On Friday, Trapattoni had given his clearest indication yet that he would start Pilkington against Sweden on March 22. He was full of praise for him and when asked whether he was definitely giving the 24-year-old his first senior start the manager laughed and said "I am 51 per cent sure".
He said that he had huge trust in him: "Pilkington is a typical character, we saw him in many games. He has a good personality with or without the ball. He's technical. It's not easy to play near the line but he can take [a] touch very well and go on goal. I think I am very, very confident about him – very confident," he added.