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Roy Hodgson's England snubs encouraged me to play for Ireland - Anthony Pilkington

The Norwich midfielder feels players from smaller Premier League clubs struggle to get international recognition.

Anthony Pilkington posing in the Ireland jersey back in January.
Anthony Pilkington posing in the Ireland jersey back in January.
Image: Sportsfile

NORWICH CITY MIDFIELDER Anthony Pilkington has revealed that an international snub to teammate Grant Holt encouraged him to play for Ireland.

English-born Pilkington, who received his Irish passport in January, has been named in two Ireland squads but injury has prevented him from making his international debut. He appeared in an Ireland U-21 friendly victory over Lithuania in 2008.

In an interview with Ciarán O’Raghallaigh, the 24-year-old says Roy Hodgson’s decision not to call up Holt or Southampton’s Rickie Lambert influenced his thinking.

He said, “I’m not getting any younger, even though I am 24, you see players come into the England squad and they are getting younger and younger. So it is always difficult, especially for players at a club like Norwich.

“I know John (Ruddy) is in the squad but you see players like Holty last season never got a chance when he was doing well, and this season with Ricky Lambert who has been scoring goals. Even one of my old team-mates Adam le Fondre, who has scored a lot of goals this season, has not been getting a chance when there were not really any forwards in and around the squad.” He added:

But like I say, I am really honoured that I can go and play for Ireland, and try to hopefully get us through to a World Cup at the end of next season.”

Pilkington explained that he discussed playing for Ireland with his family, friends and club manager, Chris Hughton, who made a similar call to represent the boys in green.

He also spoke about Wes Hoolahan and stated his belief that his Norwich clubmate should have started against Poland earlier in the year. Hoolahan came off the bench to score a debut goal in the win.

Pilkington said, “He showed the country what he can do and hopefully he showed the manager too. I was surprised he wasn’t starting the game to be fair, but he came on for his little half-hour cameo and I think he changed Ireland’s game.”

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Patrick McCarry

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