RICHARD DUNNE's hopes of making Ireland's crunch March qualifiers against Sweden and Austria remain in the balance after it emerged he underwent surgery in the US on Thursday.
The centre-half has not played since picking up hip and groin injuries at last summer's European Championships, and the operation was his third procedure to try and overcome the problem.
"Richard has had the operation in America and we are all hoping that once and for all it will be cleared up," Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert said, confirming that the club would not seek compensation from the FAI despite the injury occurring while the player was on international duty.
"He will come back over from the States in the next few days and hopefully start his rehab and then begin to look to the future.
"The problem all stemmed from the hip area. One thing just led to another but hopefully it has now all been cleared up. I've never seen anything like this and the medical people have never seen anything like this either."
Dunne's club situation remains up in the air with Lambert having opted for younger players since his appointment. The 33-year-old's contract at Villa Park is up at the end of the season, but unless he can return from injury, Dunne could struggle to attract suitors.
"I am very closely in contact with Richard," Giovanni Trapattoni said yesterday. "In terms of his own situation he wants to get guarantees from the club and to see if he can get back in there and make a starting position.
"It has been difficult at the club with changes before the injury and during the injury. So I think he is looking to sort that out and then he will try to think about coming back with a full recovery. I wish him well because it is a difficult period for him."
The Italian revealed that the FAI are processing paperwork for Norwich City winger Anthony Pilkington, who could make his Ireland debut against Poland in February, but said there was little prospect of Darron Gibson ending his international exile.