Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni sees potential in Pilkington
Giovanni Trapattoni feels Anthony Pilkington can offer a new dimension to his Republic of Ireland side.
Last Updated: 21/01/13 9:07pm
Pilkington was one of five uncapped players named today in a 27-man squad for next month's friendly with Poland in Dublin, and Trapattoni is excited about what the 24-year-old brings to the table.
The veteran Italian said: "He is a great player with a lot of potential, and somebody that we're most interested in. We've been following him for a long time.
"We're obviously without Damien Duff, but he's the sort of player that has the ability to play on both the right and the left.
"He's good, and well known for his goalscoring ability, and I think that will certainly add something, but it's not just that - technically he's extremely good, and tactically aware on the pitch also. This makes me really look forward to having him in the squad."
Pilkington was born in Blackburn but Trapattoni says the former Huddersfield wide man is committed to playing for the Republic, for whom he made one Under-21 appearance in 2008 and qualifies through his Irish grandmother.
Trapattoni added: "Yes, he has made it clear that he wants to play for Ireland, and that's very positive for the country- and for him. We are really looking forward to working with him."
The other newcomers in the squad are West Ham keeper Stephen Henderson and Derby trio Richard Keogh, Jeff Hendrick and Conor Sammon.
Trapattoni said two or three of those players are likely to start the match against Poland on February 6, with Pilkington, Sammon and Hendrick in pole position.
"I wish to see their personalities. From what I have seen from them at their clubs, they have good personalities, it is very important for them to show us the same attitude and personality," said the 73-year-old coach, who was due to travel to Dublin to give a press conference today but stayed in Italy following the death this morning of his sister, Sister Romilde Trapattoni.
In what is a largely inexperienced squad, Trapattoni has left out the likes of captain Robbie Keane and Reading defender Stephen Kelly as he looks to give some of the younger players a chance to impress.
Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne, 33, has been named in the squad, but a final decision on his inclusion will be made closer to the match as he is yet to play this season because of groin and hip problems.
However, there is no place for Dunne's Villa team-mate and record Republic cap holder Shay Given.
The 36-year-old, who retired after winning the last of his 125 caps in last summer's European Championships, has had a change of heart due to his lack of club action but is still struggling with a hamstring injury.
When asked if Given would be considered in the future, Trapattoni said: "It's similar to what I explained to Robbie Keane. There's an evolution within this squad, and it's important for me to keep bringing players through.
"I explained to Shay that for this friendly match we are looking to use the players that I have to give them more match time."
He added: "I have a lot of respect for Shay as a player. When he spoke to us during our phone call he said to us that if we needed him, he'd be there.
"That shows great pride in the jersey, professionalism and seriousness that characterises Shay as a player. We'll continue to follow him.
The Poland match is part of the Republic's preparations for their World Cup qualifying double-header against Sweden and Austria in March, which is likely to prove crucial for their chances of making the finals in Brazil.