Football - Pilkington eyes fitness boost

Winger Anthony Pilkington hopes a summer of rest can see him return fully fit to help Norwich establish themselves in the Barclays Premier League - and then finally make his long-awaited Republic of Ireland debut on the road to the 2014 World Cup.

PA Sport

Pilkington shrugged off a frustrating run of niggling injuries to boost Norwich's attacking options as the Norfolk club steered themselves to safety and then rounded off the campaign with a memorable 3-2 win at Manchester City, where the midfielder took his season's tally to five.

However, the 24-year-old - who qualifies via his Dublin-born paternal grandmother and was capped by the Republic under-21s in 2008 - has been forced out of Giovanni Trapattoni's plans once again to allow himself enough recovery time over the summer, during which he will also get married.

And, while it is clearly a disappointment not to be involved for the games against England at Wembley, the World Cup qualifier with the Faroe Islands on June 7 and then a trip to face European champions Spain in New York, Pilkington feels the added time off will set him up for the challenges ahead for both club and country in 2013/2014.

"The (Norwich) management and the physio have pulled me out - I have been struggling with my knee so I need to get treatment through the summer and an extra four games is not going to help me through pre-season," Pilkington said in the Eastern Daily Press.

"I need a rest and I need the treatment that I am going to be getting through the summer in the off season, so hopefully I can put that behind me and come back pre-season 100% fit.

"It is unfortunate these injuries have popped up at the worst times for me, but like I say, I have got to put that behind me now, get right for next season and then hopefully see if I can get back in the (Ireland) squad."

Pilkington added: "It wouldn't be right for me to go away and then come back in pre-season struggling.

"I have had to manage the (patellar tendon) injury towards the end of the season and because of my knee, I have picked up a few hamstring injuries.

"So I will go away in the summer, work hard, get 100% fit and come back flying."

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