Pilkington: I want Ronaldo to play against Ireland

The Norwich City midfielder is keen to be tested by Portugal and is hoping that the Real Madrid forward will be fit to play in New Jersey
Republic of Ireland midfielder Anthony Pilkington is eager to play against Cristiano Ronaldo when the Boys in Green take on Portugal at MetLife Stadium on Wednesday morning.

The Real Madrid forward has missed both of the Seleccao's World Cup warm up friendlies thus far with a persistent knee problem but is expected to return to training and could take part in the friendly game against Martin O'Neill's team.

And Norwich City winger Pilkington, who picked up his fifth cap in Ireland's 1-1 draw against Costa Rica at PPL Park in Philadelphia, is hopeful that Paulo Bento will field his strongest team in order to give O'Neill's men a proper test ahead of their Euro 2016 qualification campaign, which kicks off in September.

"I think you want Ronaldo to play," Pilkington told the Irish Sunday Mirror.

"You want to test yourself against the best players. There's no good playing teams like Potugal and them resting all their players and you play against the lads who aren't going to be starting in the World Cup.

"It's vital for us to prepare the best we can going into the qualifiers. So we hope they have the strongst squad possible out so we can test ourselfve and we can learn and make sure we're right.

"This will be our last game before it kicks off so that's why the manager wanted it."

Ireland face Portugal on Wednesday June 11. Kick off 00:45 BST.