GARY Cahill has been handed an unexpected route to the World Cup – with the Republic of Ireland.

Giovanni Trapattoni wants the Wanderers defender to play for Ireland if they reach next summer’s finals in South Africa.

Cahill is eligible due to one of his grandparents coming from the country and Trapattoni hopes to take advanatge of new Fifa rules installed.

The new legislation would allow the defender to play for Ireland despite having played for England Under-21s.

But, having become a regular in Fabio Capello’s squad in the last six months, Gary Megson would be surprised if the 23-year-old turned his back on the country of birth.

“It’s something that can happen because he qualifies for it,” said the Wanderers manager. “He’s been away with England a few times and I hope his ambitions lie there without being disrespectful to Ireland.

“The last time I looked Sheffield was in the middle of England and that’s where I’m sure he wants to play.

“But you’d have to ask Gary because it comes down to what he wants.”

Cahill was disappointed not to play any part in England’s meaningless World Cup qualifiers against the Ukraine and Belarus this month, and is behind rivals Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Joleon Lescott and Matthew Upson in Capello’s plans.

But his club boss is confident the centre-back will get his chance if he keeps impressing for Wanderers.

“We have an embarrassment of riches in that position but if he keeps plugging away I’m sure his time will come and he’ll get that cap,” said Megson.