Anthony Pilkington confirms intention to play for Ireland

Norwich winger was watched by Marco Tardelli during impressive win against Wigan and has pledged his allegiance to the green
Norwich City winger Anthony Pilkington is set to commit his international future to the Republic of Ireland after excelling in front of Marco Tardelli, Giovanni Trapattoni's assistant, on Saturday during the Canaries' English Premier League victory over Wigan Athletic.

The 24-year-old, whose goal and assist for Wes Hoolahan propelled Norwich up to seventh place in the league table, should become a Republic of Ireland player in February despite calls for him to be selected by England manager Roy Hogdson.

Both countries have been keeping tabs on the Blackburn-born wideman, who has a Republic under-21 cap, but it seems the Irish management have won the race to secure his services. It is believed the FAI got in touch with Pilkington a few weeks ago about the possibility of declaring for the Boys in Green and papers ratifying his allegiance are now close to being completed.

The former Huddersfield Town winger has been instrumental to Norwich's incredible rise up the table, finding the net in three successive home games, and confirmed to reporters on Saturday that he is set to become an Irish international sooner rather than later.

"I have had a call from the Republic and they are now starting to sort out all the paperwork," he said. "That's where we are at the moment.

"But their next game isn't until February so we will just have to wait and see what happens now. We just have to sort out all the paperwork and then go from there really.

"I am definitely eligible because my grandmother comes from Ireland, from Dublin. So I would be more than happy to play for them, if I am selected."

Fifa rules mean a player is only committed to a nation if he appears in a competitive match and Giovanni Trapattoni admits he's very interested in the player.

"I haven't spoken to Roy Hodgson about him. England have a lot of players at their disposal. I can say with certainty that he is very interested to play for us. We might be able to see him in early February."

Pilkington's Norwich team-mate Wes Hoolahan should also be in the squad for the friendly with Poland in Dublin on February 6 as he continues to impress in the top flight. The 30-year-old has been capped just twice as Trapattoni remains unconvinced, but he has been a mainstay of the Norwich side this season.

The former Blackpool man has signed a new contract at Carrow Road and Pilkington was quick to praise him after the Wigan win.

"He's a great player, probably the best I've played with," he said.

Ireland take on Poland at the Aviva Stadium on February 6 before a World Cup qualifier double header against Sweden and Austria in March.