EPL: Should Norwich City's Anthony Pilkington Answer Ireland's Call?

Andy WardContributor IIDecember 16, 2012

NORWICH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 17:  Anthony Pilkington of Norwich City celebrates his opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Manchester United at Carrow Road on November 17, 2012 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Christopher Lee/Getty Images


The prospect of English-born talents choosing to switch allegiance to the Republic of Ireland is hardly a novel idea. 

Many players have made the decision to give up on their dream of ever donning the Three Lions in exchange for a chance to pull on the iconic green jersey of their adopted nation instead.

Not blessed with the same giant pool of players as their cousins across The Irish Sea, The Emerald Isle has always made great use of FIFA's so called 'Granny Rule' which permits players to switch international allegiance to the nation of their grandmother's birth.

For Ireland, the loophole really hit the headlines at the 1994 World Cup in America where several members of the squad were born and raised in England, and yet were given the opportunity to shine on the biggest stage of all in an Irish jersey instead.

Since that point, The Boys In Green have welcomed many an Englishman into their ranks with open arms as they continue their quest to climb the FIFA World Rankings.

Now, Giovanni Trapattoni is hoping to continue that trend by persuading Norwich City's Anthony Pilkington to commit his future to the Irish cause.  

The 24-year-old winger has been nothing short of a revelation since making the step up to the Premier League with The Canaries just under 18 months ago and is undoubtedly an integral part of Chris Hughton's well-oiled machine.

According to a report in The Irish Examiner, Pilkington's consistent form has attracted the attention of both Ireland and England but Trapattoni appears confident that the Norwich man's loyalty lies with his side:

"I can say with certainty that he is very interested to play for us. He is honoured with the interest and the paperwork is being processed at the moment. He is technically excellent and he is very physical. He is at ease playing both off his left and right foot."


Whilst the above is clearly a glowing endorsement from Trapattoni,  it is surely a valid point to ask whether Pilkington is doing the correct thing by turning his back on England?

Although it would almost certainly take the Blackburn-born player longer to fulfill his international ambitions if he was to wait for Roy Hodgson's call, Pilkington possesses all of the attributes that would make it hard for the England boss to ignore him. 

Strong, quick, genuinely two-footed and standing at just over 6'0" to boot, the ex-Huddersfield man really does have it all.

His left-footed pile-driver against Wigan Athletic in Saturday's 2-1 victory at Carrow Road was his third strike on home soil in succession. It followed his headed winner against Manchester United and his cool finish on his right foot in the Canaries triumph over Sunderland

Such an array of goals is both definitive proof of the sort of ability that Pilkington has at his disposal, and confirmation of why Trapattoni is so keen to get him on board.

Conversely, from Pilkington's point of view, you can appreciate why he would be excited at the prospect of playing for Ireland.

To play international football is a wonderful achievement and such a step up would mark the next stage in the wide man's increasingly promising career.

But on the flip side, there is always likely to be a hinge of disappointment that he could be playing for England instead.

The likes of Stewart Downing and Adam Johnson are just two names that have occupied the left wing berth for The Three Lions in recent times, and it could be argued that neither have done anything particularly spectacular in the Premier League to justify their inclusion over Pilkington. 

Of course, the old debate regarding whether players from apparent "lesser clubs" are deliberately overlooked by England could be a subconcious factor in Pilkington's leaning towards the Republic, which was a point ironically highlighted by Pilkington's Norwich teammate Grant Holt who labelled the country's selection policy as "ridiculous" in an interview with the BBC

Whether such a prejudice does exist, we are likely to never know, but what I do know is that Pilkington is good enough to at least be in with a shout for England.

Hanging on for an opportunity to play for England would certainly be a gamble on Pilkington's behalf, but his talent is there for all to see. 

For Now, all Pilkington can do is keep producing the goods for Norwich and allow Trapattoni and Hodgson to do the rest.