GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI has been delivered a World Cup boost after Stoke boss Tony Pulis confirmed that Marc Wilson is just a couple of weeks away from a return to action.
The left-back suffered a broken leg in the Premier League clash with Sunderland on October 27, two weeks after he scored a key goal on his first competitive start for Ireland in the pressure-filled win in the Faroe Islands.
There were initial fears that he faced a long lay-off, but the 25-year-old has made a good recovery and is on the verge of resuming ball-work with his employers.
It is anticipated that Ireland's friendly with Poland on February 6 will come too soon. However, Trapattoni's main concern is that the player is available for the crucial March double header with Sweden and Austria, and he is set to comfortably meet that target.
"We are hopeful that Marc is now only a couple of weeks away," said Pulis. "I am hoping that in the next couple of days or even early next week, he might be able to join in with a little bit of ball work with the players."
Trapattoni was slow to promote Wilson to his team after some well publicised misunderstandings, but he took action in the wake of Ireland's 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Germany.
Wilson (left) was selected ahead of Stephen Ward for the subsequent trip to the Faroes and demonstrated the quality that has made him a Premier League regular.
Pulis displayed his admiration for the player by offering him a new four-year contract the week after he sustained his injury.
The fitness of defenders is the main issue for Trapattoni in the build-up to the pivotal spring fixtures.