Norwich City’s Anthony Pilkington knows how Reading will be feeling
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Anthony Pilkington reckons Norwich City can expect to encounter their alter ego in today’s Premier League trip to the Madejeski.
Reading’s early struggles after exiting the Championship bear more than an echo of the initial teething troubles endured by the Canaries this time last season.
Pilkington’s first top flight goal of his career helped City get that taboo-lifting win at Bolton and the rest became glorious history for the new boys. Reading have inherited that mantle this time around, and Pilkington believes their on-going search for an elusive win underlines the gulf in class from the Football League.
“Yes, definitely. You find out quickly how hard it is in the Premier League and no matter if you’re a couple of goals up, teams in this league have the quality, whether it’s 10 minutes to go or half an hour to go, they’ll always push on and they’re always capable of scoring goals,” he said.
“I’d say you have to keep your confidence right to the final whistle because one little slip or mistake and you’re going to get punished.
“At the start of the season you look at these games and you hope to pick up as many points as you can from the teams you think may be in and around you come the end of the season. They’re really important – points against the likes of Spurs and Arsenal, they’re bonuses – these are good games for us and I’m sure we’ll be looking to pick up all three points.”
Pilkington is wary of Reading’s scoring potential, but the wide player is confident recent results prove Chris Hughton’s methods are beginning to bear fruit.
“Everyone has their own different style. The last couple of managers I’ve played under have done a bit more jumping up and down on the sidelines and shouting, but everyone has their own different style and that works for the manager at the moment,” he said.
“I think we’re looking to be a lot more solid at the back and compact, so you have to do a little bit more defending. But when we get on the ball we have to try to get forward and score goals as well because that’s the aim of the game.
“Reading is capable of scoring goals. You look back to last week when they scored five goals against Arsenal and not many teams will do that. We’re going to have to be on our toes. We can’t look at them and see where they are in the league because it’s early. They’ve probably not had the rub of the green and they’ve conceded late goals, but it’s going to be really tough.”
City head to Berkshire five points clear of their opponents – a tally Pilkington feels does not reflect their body of work to date.
“Looking back we could have had maybe a few more points in the table if we’d been a bit luckier in a few of the games,” he said.
“Against Spurs, Brad Friedel was unbelievable and you’re looking at maybe two more points there, and QPR at home as well.
“But we can’t look back, we can only look forward now and that’s what we’re going to do. I hope we’re coming home happy on Saturday evening with all three points.
“We got turned over a couple of times earlier in the season but we didn’t really look to that.
“We looked at the performances we had against Spurs and QPR where we probably felt unlucky not to pick up all three points and we always believed we could go on and collect wins in this league and that’s what we’re starting to do.”
Pilkington has yet to open his own Premier League goal account for the new season, but the midfielder’s displays have again reportedly brought him to the attention of Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni.
Norwich team mate Wes Hoolahan is in the Republic squad for next week’s friendly against Greece in Dublin, but Pilkington insists he has yet to be officially contacted by Irish officials. Quotes attributed recently to the Italian suggested Trapattoni was waiting for Pilkington to pledge his international allegiance to the Emerald Isle.
“I’ve not had a call from them so until that happens, I’ll just be concentrating on my football for Norwich,” said the Lancashire-bred player, who qualifies for the Republic through his grandparents.
“Unless someone gives me a call-up and phones me up and says ‘Do you want to come and play?’ there’s no point really making a decision. But I’m just going to concentrate on playing well for Norwich and if that leads to a call-up from Ireland, then I’ll sit down and think about it.
“I can’t believe Wes hasn’t been in the squad a lot sooner than he has. He’s a great player, one of the best players I’ve ever played with and how he was not in that squad for the last tournament (in the summer) they were at is beyond me.”