Chris Hughton has backed Wes Hoolahan to force his way into the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup plans after withdrawing from this week’s Serbia friendly.

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The 30-year-old had to pull out of the trip to Belgrade with an Achilles problem on Friday night just hours after his late call-up to replace Everton’s Darron Gibson in Giovanni Trapattoni’s experimental squad.

Hoolahan missed City’s final pre-season 2-0 friendly defeat against Borussia Monchengladbach at the weekend but is expected to re-join training ahead of Saturday’s Premier League opener at Fulham.

Hughton, who won 53 caps himself for the Republic and featured in both the 1988 European Championships and 1990 World Cup, believes Hoolahan should accentuate the positives after finally forcing his way into the Irish mix.

“I feel very much for Wes,” said Hughton. “Since coming here, what I have been made aware of was the form he had shown in the last period of time got him very close to a call up before, and it hasn’t happened. People here have questioned and wondered why, but you have an international manager that has very much stuck to his squad. Then the first opportunity he gets it doesn’t work out.

“The good thing is he got the call up, but it probably couldn’t have come at a worst time. It’ll be a big boost for him because it is recognition for him now and that shows he is on the radar.

“The manager has shown that if he is prepared to change that squad he has kept then Wes is in his thoughts. Firstly, of course, he has got to be fit for us and come the next international game if he is in the squad I would be delighted.”

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