The 19-year-old Manchester City full-back, currently on loan at Leicester, will win his third cap in tonight's friendly against Norway with 33-year-old Kilbane laid up with a back injury.
Kilbane admitted he did consider retiring from international football in the wake of Ireland's heartbreaking World Cup play-off exit in France a year ago but stayed on for another campaign.
However, he knows the time will come when his days are over, and Cunningham is well placed to stake his claim for a future in the national team.
Trapattoni, who has spoken to Leicester boss Sven-Goran Eriksson about the youngster, said: "I tried him against Paraguay and he played well, and I like his personality. He is a good footballer. When he has the ball, he immediately sees the pass, and he has good personality.
"Sure, we are missing Kilbane, but slowly, slowly, we have to look at other players and their strengths and I am sure he can play well because he has good character."
Trapattoni was tempted also to give Everton's Seamus Coleman a chance tonight, but opted to put him on the bench.
Meanwhile, across the border, Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington believes Chris Brunt could become one of the game's biggest stars - but has challenged him to reproduce club form for country.
The West Brom winger was linked with Liverpool over the weekend as plaudits for his prominent role in the Baggies' fine start in the Barclays Premier League continued to roll in.
Worthington feels he is yet to see the best of the 25-year-old in a Northern Ireland shirt and has decided to experiment with the former Middlesbrough trainee in a more advanced role in tonight's friendly against Morocco at Windsor Park.
"Chris has got the world at his feet," Worthington said. "He is big, he has got two great feet and a powerful left foot. If he gets his head down and keeps working hard at his game, he can be at the top for however long he wants.
"He's frustrated me and probably frustrated himself sometimes - when you're playing for Northern Ireland in wide areas you've got to work up and down and that's maybe not one of Chris' strengths.."
Brunt will play behind lone striker Rory Patterson in an attack that is not only inexperienced, but in a team barely recognisable from the last one fielded. Only captain Aaron Hughes, Jonny Evans and Ryan McGivern survive from the side frustrated by the Faroe Islands last month after Worthington was hit by a raft of withdrawals.
Rangers defender Andy Little yesterday became the 12th player to pull out since the squad was named after going down with a virus,. but Inverness goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey has a chance to stake his claim to succeed absent veteran Maik Taylor in the long term.