With doubts continuing to surround the availability of Seamus Coleman for Monday’s World Cup qualifier in Serbia, Cyrus Christie says he is ready to step into the right-back berth if needed.
The Everton defender is struggling to overcome an ankle injury which has prevented him from playing this season but Christie is confident he can be relied upon in the heat of the Belgrade battle.
“It’s a massive game for us but one I’d be delighted to play in. I wouldn’t wish an injury on anyone so let’s see how Seamus progresses over the weekend. Hopefully, he’ll be fine because we want our best team available,” said Christie.
Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill was vindicated in promoting the Derby County man to the position last October when Coleman missed the crucial Euro qualifier against Germany.
After winning his sixth cap against Oman on Wednesday, Christie said the faith of O’Neill not only kickstarted his international career but also rescued him from the axe at club level.
“This time last year when I started against Gibraltar, I’d hardly played for Derby by then and they wanted to get rid of me,” said Christie.
“Paul Clement, our manager at the time, didn’t see me in his plans and I had offers to go on loan to other Championship clubs and some from around Europe.
“Then I scored against Gibraltar and also played against Germany. After that, I played in every game for the remainder of the season, winning Derby’s young player of the year.
“International football just gave me a different scenario which I improved a lot from. Coming in with the Ireland set-up helped to grow me as a player.”
Gaining the trust of O’Neill was integral to Christie’s resurgence.
“I didn’t play at the Euros because of the competition I have with Seamus, but I was the youngest member of the squad and the manager kept talking to me throughout the tournament.
“Before the Italy game, he did pull me aside and say, ‘Out of everyone, you do deserve the chance to play but I can’t really put you in the team at the minute.’
“However, he spoke about the World Cup qualifiers to come and the World Cup itself as well if we can qualify.
“He said, ‘You’re fantastic, you’re a great player,’ and that if he was a club manager, he said he would buy me. That was brilliant to hear from such a great manager.”
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