Paddy Madden on standby for Ireland after four withdraw

Goalkeeper Stephen Henderson called up as Forde, Pilkington, Cox and Quinn drop out


For the fifth time in 12 months Anthony Pilkington has declined the opportunity to make his Republic of Ireland debut.

The Norwich winger, along with striker Simon Cox and Stephen Quinn, has pulled out of the squad to face Wales in Cardiff next Wednesday because of injury. The loss of the trio prompted Giovanni Trapattoni to place Yeovil Town striker Paddy Madden on standby this evening.

West Ham goalkeeper Stephen Henderson has been called up to replace Millwall’s David Forde, who, as expected, pulled out after undergoing knee surgery.

Cox took a knock to his ankle during Nottingham Forest’s Capital One Cup win last night, while Hull City manager Steve Bruce confirmed the hamstring injury suffered by Quinn in a pre-season friendly against Eintracht Braunschweig may keep him out of their season’s opening fixture against Chelsea.

Bruce admitted today that Quinn’s injury looks a “bad one”, but Cox’s condition is not as grim as initially feared, according to Forest manager Billy Davies.

“Simon Cox has damaged some ligaments in his ankle, it was a freak accident,” he said after victory over Hartlepool. “Unfortunately he has some swelling ... and he will be missing for two or three weeks.”

Pilkington’s condition is less clear. He played two games for Norwich last month, and scored in one, but has not featured for the Canaries in the last four friendlies because of a knee injury.

"We are just managing a slight problem with his knee," said Canaries boss Chris Hughton today. "Anthony did the first part of pre-season and he did very well. When it came round to these most recent period of games we have not been able to use him. We are hopeful that he is going to be training next week and to push on from there."

Nevertheless, his withdrawal will once again call into question his commitment to Ireland before his international career as even begun.

The English-born winger declined a call up for the friendly against Serbia in August last year when clubmate Wes Hoolahan’s withdrawal left a space to fill. He cited injury on that occasion and again when he was officially named in his first squad ahead of the February friendly against Poland.

After his call up for the March World Cup qualifying double-header against Sweden and Austria, a hamstring strain prevented him from joining up with the squad, while he also withdrew from the end of season friendly with England in May; the need to rest a knee injury was the reason offered then. His involvement on that occasion was already in doubt because he was due to marry on May 31st and was all but sure to miss subsequent games against Georgia, the Faroe Islands and Spain.

Giovanni Trapattoni has spoken highly of the winger on a number of occasions, and even suggested he may be the key to a formation change from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3, but with Wednesday’s Wales friendly the final dress rehearsal for another double-header with Group C rivals Sweden (home) and Austria (away), it would seem unlikely that tactical switch is going to happen any time soon.

The withdrawal of both he and Cox leaves Ireland very low on forward options for the game in Cardiff, with Shane Long, Jonathan Walters and Conor Sammon the only frontmen in the squad after captain Robbie Keane and Wolves striker Kevin Doyle were omitted from the initial selection.

The two were left out for very different reasons, with Keane simply given time off to focus on his LA Galaxy commitments, but Doyle out of favour after a lacklustre season that saw Wolves relegated to League One.

Any hopes Doyle had of a surprise call were trumped this evening when the FAI confirmed Madden is on call ahead of the squad assembling in Newport on Sunday.

Madden’s inclusion comes after a phenomenal season for the 23-year-old. He left Carlisle United last October in search of games and goals, and found both when helping Yeovil Town to promotion to the Championship and picking up the League One Golden Boot having hit the net 25 times.

The former Bohemians frontman greeted the news on Twitter this evening with no less than three smiley faces.

“Thanks for messages :) Delighted with the news, on standby for Ireland senior team :) Hopefully that first cap will come soon :)”

Another man with whom today’s developments will sit well is goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, who looks sure to start against Wales after the withdrawal of Forde. With the Millwall man expected to spend a month on the sidelines, the Sunderland goalkeeper is in pole position to be between the posts against Sweden on September 6th.

“David (Forde) has had a slight clean-up of his knee,” said Millwall manager Steve Lomas today. “We are hoping he will be back in four weeks.”

That sort of recovery period would see Forde only returning to fitness on the week of the Sweden game, which comes four days before the trip to Austria.

The suggestion from Trapattoni, since the retirement of Shay Given, has been that Westwood, if playing regularly at Premier League level, is his preferred number one. Now that Simon Mignolet has departed for Liverpool, that appears to be the case, and should Westwood start the season at home against Fulham on August 17th, he will have three flight games under his belt before the visit of Sweden, barring either injury or calamity.

Gareth Bale has been named in the Wales squad for the friendly. The Tottenham winger is currently the subject of intense speculation surrounding a possible big-money move to Spanish giants Real Madrid, and has also been battling to overcome a niggling injury.

Wales manager Chris Coleman’s 23-man squad also includes Cardiff striker Craig Bellamy and Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, who missed the majority of last season with cruciate knee ligament injuries.

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