'I was always committed' - Anthony Pilkington emphasises desire to play for Ireland

The Norwich City winger has vowed that he was determined to play for the Boys in Green despite speculation surrounding several squad withdrawals
Anthony Pilkington maintains that he has always been committed to the Republic of Ireland since declaring his allegiance.

The Norwich player's claim of commitment was not helped by no fewer than five withdrawals since his initial call-up to the squad for a friendly with Serbia in August of 2012. He withdrew from that game with a hamstring injury and was subsequently included in four more of Giovanni Trapattoni's squads but each time pulled out, usually due to a troublesome knee.

However, speaking to reporters in Dublin on Monday morning, the 25-year-old defended his absences amid suggestions that it proved he was not 100 per cent committed to Ireland.

"Obviously, I can see why people started talking," he said. "But I'd be no good to anyone coming here and playing with a dodgy knee or a torn hamstring. I wouldn't be helping myself or the country.

"People need to realise that I had the injuries. I was always committed. The first time I had to pull out my bags were packed, ready to come over.

"We had a morning game and we were due to fly out, me and Wes [Hoolahan, Norwich team-mate] after the game. I got injured during the game.

"I'm over here now and I'm excited for the game and hopefully get a good week's training, and pick up the points that we need on Friday [against Sweden in the Aviva Stadium]."

The former Huddersfield man pointed out that there had been no communication breakdown between Norwich and the FAI at any stage and explained that they had been in frequent contact.

He added: "[Giovanni Trapattoni] understood, the medical teams both spoke to each other constantly.

"The boss was always talking to me on text, there was always communication between both parties at all times. Luckily, he kept calling me up and my knee feels all right at the moment."

Pilkington also revealed the part that Canaries boss Chris Hughton, a former Ireland international and assistant manager, played in his decision to declare for the Boys in Green.

"When the country was asking about my availability, he came and spoke to me and told me what the set-up was like, because obviously he's been over here. He played as well, he said 'go over there and you'll enjoy it.'"

Trapattoni, speaking at a press conference in Dublin this morning, did not elaborate on the possibility of Pilkington playing some part against Sweden on Friday, a must-win game for Ireland's chances of qualifying for the World Cup.

He said: "[Pilkington] is good, he had a little knee problem, but I am evaluating his situation at the moment. I have also to think about the opponent, Sweden."

Republic of Ireland host Sweden at the Aviva Stadium on Friday September 6. Kick off 19:45 BST.