IRELAND’S WORLD CUP qualification hopes have been struck with another blow after Anthony Pilkington was ruled out of the team’s upcoming double-header.
The Norwich midfielder, who is yet to play a competitive game for Ireland, came off early in Norwich City’s Premier League draw with Southampton yesterday.
He lasted only 35 minutes of the 0-0 draw at Carrow Road before he was replaced by fellow Irish international Wes Hoolahan.
The club confirmed that Pilkington is suffering from a tight hamstring. He has since been withdrawn from Ireland’s squad.
Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni spoke highly of Pilkington during his midweek press conference, following the announcement of his squad for the qualifying matches against Austria and Sweden at the end of the month.
The 24-year-old was also named in the friendly squad to take on Poland last month but injury intervened to prevent a senior debut. He has one U-21 appearance.
On Thursday, the day before the squad announcement, Trapattoni revealed that defender Richard Dunne would miss the two games in late March, which are crucial for Ireland’s World Cup ambitions.
The squad features Hoolahan but Darron Gibson is still not ready to end his international exile. The most likely call-up for Pilkington would be Hull City midfielder David Meyler.