Pilkington hopes for a double

  • Last Updated: May 11 2013, 13:18 BST

Anthony Pilkington is hoping to make it an end-of-season double by helping Norwich stay in the Barclays Premier League and then making a long-awaited debut for the Republic of Ireland against England at Wembley.

Anthony Pilkington: Looking to end season on a high
Anthony Pilkington: Looking to end season on a high

The winger, signed from Huddersfield in July 2011, has recovered from the latest of a frustrating run of niggling injuries to boost Chris Hughton's attacking options as he looks to drag the Canaries clear of a relegation dogfight with victory over West Brom at Carrow Road on Sunday.

Pilkington, capped by the under-21s in 2008, had been called up to the Republic squad for the friendly with Poland in February, only to again be forced out by fitness problems.

The 24-year-old, who qualifies via his Dublin-born paternal grandmother, remains fully focussed on club matters, but admits the prospect of a chance to run out at Wembley would make a sweet end to what has been a frustrating campaign.

"I was in the last two squads and had to pull out because of injury. That's up to the Irish squad and the people here, the physios and the manager, to see whether I'll be available for that and go from there," said Pilkington, who along with Norwich playmaker Wes Hoolahan is set to be watched by Trapattoni on Sunday.

"To play at Wembley is massive for any footballer - it's one of the best stadiums to play at, in front of the English fans in England v Ireland would be great."

Norwich lost at home to a late winner from Gabriel Agbonlahor as former manager Paul Lambert left Norfolk with a crucial victory in Aston Villa's quest to stay up.

The defeat left the Canaries hovering just about the drop zone, and led to the cancellation of Monday night's pre-planned awards dinner.

Wigan's subsequent home loss to Swansea has given Norwich some breathing space - they are now three points clear of danger heading into their final two matches.

However, with the campaign finishing at Manchester City next weekend, Pilkington maintains everyone is determined to get the job done.

"We didn't want anything getting in the way of Sunday and getting a positive result," he said.

"We didn't want any distractions and I think that came right from the top of the club.

"The boys have picked themselves up, the staff have picked themselves up - we have just been training out there at Carrow Road and the mood has been really good.

"Swansea winning was a great result for us, but we have to concentrate on ourselves and make sure we do things right.

"We believe we have the quality to go out there on Sunday and finish the job off."

Norwich's defeat at West Brom on December 22 brought to an end their superb 10-match unbeaten run.

Since then, though, Hughton's men have managed only two victories in 19 to allow themselves to get sucked back into the relegation battle.

While seven of those were draws which on another day could easily have resulted in victory, Hughton admits it is a turn of events which at the time he just could not see coming.

He said: "Did I think we would be in this position with two games to go at that stage? No, I didn't.

Anthony Pilkington

13. Anthony Pilkington

Title Number
Appearances 4 (2)
Goals 0
Assists 0
Yellows 0
Reds 0
*Current Season

"But what we have seen and felt is just how difficult this division is.

"It is just about trying to get the right formulas to win games, which is what we have not been able to do since that spell before Christmas."

Hughton watched West Brom in their midweek defeat at Manchester City, a second successive loss for the Baggies, and knows his team will have to raise the performance level.

"They have the offensive tools to hurt teams and they have showed that throughout the season," said Hughton, who is likely to recall fit again England goalkeeper John Ruddy tomorrow.

"They have had Premier League security for a while, but they have some very good options."


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