MACEDONIA beware, Kevin Kilbane has you in his sights – but only after close of business at Town!
The on-loan Hull City midfielder extended his record number of Republic of Ireland caps to 109 when he faced the Eastern Europeans in Dublin last month.
And the 34-year-old is targeting the return fixture on June 4 as Giovanni Trapattoni’s team aim to keep alive their bid to make the Euro 2012 finals.
While it’s not the preferred route to promotion from League I, Kilbane could be on club duty on Sunday May 29, the date of the League I play-off final at Old Trafford.
Not that it would present a problem to a man who caught a 6.30am flight out of the Irish capital to be available for Town’s Galpharm clash with Notts County less than 24 hours after the Macedonia match.
“You don’t want to miss games, do you?” smiled Kilbane, who as it turned out, watched the 3-0 Sky-televised Sunday afternoon defeat of the East Midlands side from the bench, the only time he has failed to feature for Town since signing in time for the 2-2 New Year’s Day draw at Carlisle United.
Lee Clark’s side haven’t lost in the league since, not that Kilbane, who came as a replacement for injury-hit former Northern Ireland star Damien Johnson, is willing to take any of the credit, even though it’s been heaped on him by his boss and his teammates.
“I think the rest of the lads probably see me as an old moaner,” quipped the man who started out at hometown club Preston and helped them win promotion from Division III (now League I) in 1996, the title success bringing him the only medal of a career which has also taken in West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland, Everton and Wigan Athletic.
“If I can help them in any way, that’s great, but to be honest, I learn from them as well, and it’s a pleasure to playing alongside these lads and for a wonderful club.”
Still contracted to Hull for another season, Kilbane has said he would like to stay at Town, but at this stage, is focused on playing his part in the promotion bid.
It’s Charlton Athletic away today, while third-placed Town will hope for favours from Bristol Rovers, who go to second-placed Southampton, and Plymouth, who are at fourth-placed Peterborough.
“We’re at that stage of the season where everyone is looking at each other’s results, but it’s vital we keep getting points on the board,” added Kilbane, who will make his 24th Town appearance in all competitions.
“Rochdale’s win over Southampton on Tuesday showed that nothing is done and dusted just yet, and we firmly believe we can get automatic promotion.