Pilkington included in Ireland squad to face Poland
Youth will, once again, be given its chance when Ireland host Poland at the Aviva in two weeks' time, and the big news is that Anthony Pilkington has finally made it into a senior squad after being named in Giovanni Trapattoni’s 27-man party for the friendly on February 6.
The Norwich City attacking midfielder, who is from Blackburn and qualifies as an Irish player through the granny rule, has been long touted for a place in the squad but had also harboured dreams to play for England.
He made one appearance for the country’s U-21s against Lithuania in 2008.
Elsewhere, Derby County trio Richard Keogh, Jeff Hendrick and former Derry City striker Conor Sammon are included, along with another uncapped player, West Ham goalkeeper Stephen Henderson.
There are no major omissions, with Robbie Keane sitting out once more after he also missed the Greece friendly in November.
Richard Dunne, who has yet to make an appearance for Aston Villa this season, is on standby, pending his return to fitness.
In total, 14 members of the squad have played less than 10 games in an Irish shirt and nine of those in the group have previously plied their trade in the League of Ireland.
Trapattoni had to cancel his scheduled press conference in Dublin this afternoon after the passing of his sister, Romilde Trapattoni, overnight.
However, speaking through the FAI press office, Trap said: “I am sorry that I couldn’t make it to Dublin today to announce the squad for the Poland game next month.
“It is important that I stay in Italy with family at this time after the passing of my sister this morning.
“I have decided to use this friendly game as an opportunity to work with younger players to see their potential.
“As a result, I have given senior players like Robbie Keane and Stephen Kelly a break for this fixture.
“We saw a number of strong performances from our younger players in the second half of last year and we intend to build from those strong foundations, using this friendly match to introduce more new talent like Pilkington, Hendrick, Sammon and (Richard) Keogh.
“I look forward to working with these players, and seeing what they have to offer.”
Republic of Ireland squad to face Poland: Westwood, Forde, Henderson; O'Shea, Clarke, O'Dea, Dunne (standby), McShane, Coleman, R Keogh, Cunningham, Ward; Pilkington, McClean, Brady, McGeady, Whelan, McCarthy, Hendrick, Meyler, Hoolahan; Cox, Long, Walters, Sammon, A Keogh, Doyle.