Saturday 18 November 2017

Pilkington out of Sweden tie as injury ends debut hopes

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

ANTHONY PILKINGTON'S injury jinx has cost the Norwich winger a chance to make his Ireland debut in next week's World Cup qualifier with Sweden.

Giovanni Trapattoni told journalists last week that he was leaning towards handing the Canaries star a shock start in the crucial encounter.

However, the 24-year-old hobbled off with another hamstring injury in the first half of his side's Premier League tie with Southampton and the Norwich medical team informed the FAI that Pilkington will not recover in time to play a part.

Hamstring trouble prevented Pilkington (pictured below) from joining up with the squad for last month's game with Poland when he was certain to be involved from the outset after he confirmed his allegiance to Ireland.

It means that he will probably have to wait until May's Wembley encounter with the country of his birth to begin his senior Irish journey.

Trapattoni is likely to start with Aiden McGeady as a wide midfielder in Sweden, with the dilemma surrounding the identity of the man on the other flank.

The manager has concerns about James McClean and Robbie Brady's experience and has spoken about deploying a striker in that berth, with Simon Cox, Shane Long and Jonathan Walters all floated as possible options.

The Italian named a provisional 29-man panel for the double header and, in light of Pilkington's misfortune, he will have to chop just five bodies this week, most likely in the defensive department, where he has 11 options.

On the bright side, Sean St Ledger increased his prospects of making the cut after coming on for Leicester as an 86th-minute substitute in their disappointing defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

Trapattoni hinted during the week that he will partner John O'Shea and Ciaran Clark in the heart of his defence due to St Ledger's lack of game-time.

Irish Independent

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