Andy Booth on Anthony Pilkington, Bradford City plus a Newcastle and Aston Villa relegation battle

I WAS delighted to see my old teammate Anthony Pilkington receive a Republic of Ireland call-up.

I WAS delighted to see my old teammate Anthony Pilkington receive a Republic of Ireland call-up.

He’s in Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad for the friendly against Poland in Dublin a week on Wednesday, February 6.

That’s the same night England play Brazil at Wembley and Scotland take on Estonia in Gordon Strachan’s first match as manager at his old stomping ground of Aberdeen.

Lee Clark did a great bit of business for Town when he signed Pilks from Stockport County four years ago.

I was struggling with a back injury at that time, so I only played a few games with him.

I wish it had been more, because I reckon I’d have got a few more goals.

Pilks is a very good winger and a very good crosser of the ball with either foot – perfect for a striker like myself.

Throw in the fact that he also gets a few goals himself and you can see why he’s such a useful asset to any team.

He certainly gave our club good service, and we made a good profit when he moved on to Norwich the summer before last.

It was a disappointment when he departed, but you could understand why he wanted to have a crack at the Premier League with Norwich when the chance arose.

They took a little bit of a gamble, because Pilks hadn’t fully recovered from that horrible injury (broken left leg and ankle dislocation) he sustained when playing against Rochdale at our place in March 2011.

I was a little worried that the injury might take the edge off him, but he seems to have kept all his skills – and his pace.

He’s a very dedicated trainer and a great bloke who keeps his feet on the ground, so it’s nice to see him doing well.

At 24, he still has time on his side, so hopefully he’s be a fixture in both the Premier League and the Republic of Ireland side for many more years to come.

I’D LIKE to congratulate Bradford City for their fantastic achievement in reaching the Capital One Cup final – and wish them all the best when they take on Swansea City at Wembley on February 24.

It’s got all the makings of a terrific match, and having already seen off three Premier League sides in Wigan, Arsenal and now Aston Villa, you wouldn’t bet against them adding a fourth scalp.

Times have been tough for Bradford, both the club and the city itself, and this will be a great boost for the place as a whole.

The scenes after last Tuesday’s game show just what makes sport so special, and this is one of those achievements that galvanises a whole city.

We know just how great a trip to Wembley can be, and Bradford fans will travel to the capital in their thousands.

I was laid up in hospital because of a throat problem in the early part of last week, so I didn’t see the Villa Park game.

But one of my mates kept me updated with texts, and they were quite exciting!

When Villa got their early goal then put Bradford under pressure, it was looking a little dodgy.

But James Hanson’s header was a killer blow for Paul Lambert and his team.

It’s only 10 years since Swansea were battling to stay in the Football League.

So the progress they have made in a decade is astonishing.

They are in a smart stadium, established in the Premier League under an excellent manager in Michael Laudrup, have just extended the contract of their star player Michu and are through to a major cup final.

A real inspiration!

THERE’S a cracking game coming up at Villa Park tomorrow night.

Newcastle are the visitors for as Premier League clash which has big implications for the top-fllght futures of both clubs.

It’s a bit of a surprise to see these two in such turmoil.

Newcastle did really well to finish fifth last season, and while Villa were a little too close to the bottom for their liking, the arrival of Paul Lambert, who did such a good job at Norwich, looked set to lift their fortunes.

Going out of the Capital One Cup to Bradford in the manner they did will have done Villa no favours in terms of morale and confidence.

Newcastle have been hit by the departure of Demba Ba to Chelsea and the uncertainty over skipper Fabricio Coloccini.

But Alan Pardew is an experienced manager who has dipped into the market to bring in some signings from France, and I give them a better chance of staying up than struggling Villa.

 

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