Trapattoni hopeful Pilkington can play some role over the two crucial World Cup games

However there’s no place for striker Kevin Doyle in the initial Republic of Ireland 29-man squad

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni at yesterday’s press conference in the Clarion Hotel, Dublin Airport. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni at yesterday’s press conference in the Clarion Hotel, Dublin Airport. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho


Anthony Pilkington may yet make his much anticipated international debut in one of the two most important games remaining in Ireland’s World Cup campaign after persuading Giovanni Trapattoni that he can still overcome his latest injury problems and join up with the squad for the first time next Sunday.

The 25-year-old has pulled out of each and every one of the five Ireland squads in which he has previously been named and having failed even to make the bench for Norwich’s game at Hull he can hardly be counted upon to break his duck in September.

Having been in contact with him late last week, however, Trapattoni remains both optimistic that the midfielder can travel and positive about the idea of him actually playing in one of the approaching qualifiers.

“He told me that he is hopeful that he will be ready,” said the manager in Dublin yesterday as he named an extended provisional squad of 29 players for the forthcoming World Cup games against Sweden and Austria, “and his doctor said he needs a week or two but that he might be ready. . . .I am hopeful that he will come.”

Would not start
Asked whether he could go straight into the team, the Italian suggested that while Pilkington would probably not start he could certainly make his debut.

“It would have been better, of course, if he had come and spent some time with us for the friendly games so as to see the system, understand our movement but he could still play, not start, as long as he comes for the week and learns what I want from him.”

The comments underline the extent of Trapattoni’s ongoing dissatisfaction with his attacking options in the wide midfield positions and he suggested that Simon Cox (if fit) and Jon Walters will again be in contention to start out there in these critically important games.

Aiden McGeady should be available for the games and is in a strong enough position to start too but Trapattoni again lamented his lack of an eye for goal while Robbie Brady’s defensive shortcomings appear to count against him.

“There are some players who sing and some who carry the cross,” said the Italian, “but sometimes even the creative players have to develop the right habits. Even Messi has to work,” he continued, “because he needs the support of his team-mates.”

Pretty much everyone who could have reasonably hoped to be named yesterday was and Richard Dunne, it was suggested, will start against Sweden if fully fit. There was no place for Kevin Doyle, though, even in a squad of 29 which will, if injuries haven’t taken care of the job between now and then, be cut to 23 next week.

“It’s a huge squad,” admitted the manager who was then asked how Doyle must feel having failed to make it. The striker, he suggested, might have to change clubs in order to reclaim his place in the international set up, but, he insisted, he has not lost his place in Trapattoni’s affections: “I love Doyle,” he said before adding, “as a player not a man.” There was another brief silence and then, with a smile, he concluded, “I love women . . . . without doubt.”