Seamus Coleman will be welcomed back into the Irish fold for the game against Austria in Dublin next month.
While Ireland’s captain has only begun his recovery from the broken leg sustained in the scoreless draw with Wales, he has nevertheless expressed a strong a desire to link up with his international team-mates for the World Cup qualifier on June 11.
And Martin O’Neill is only too happy to oblige.
“He certainly wants to be here for the big game coming up,” the Ireland manager said. “Seamus is not just a part of these things, he has made some things happen for us. He’s the captain of the team and we would want him around. He was the one that was encouraging this himself. And, let me put it this way, it didn’t take much encouragement.”
The amount of time Coleman spends in Dublin will, said O’Neill, “be entirely up to his (rehabilitation) programme. I don’t want to take away from what he is doing with Everton because he is in their hands at this minute. But he will be here for the Austria game, and maybe a day or two before that. I think the lads would love to see him too.”
O’Neill said it was still too early to speculate on how long it might be before Coleman is once again fit to play for club and country.
“Physically I’m not sure about that,” he said, “but psychologically he’s over it now. He was understandably down in the first few days and in a bit of shock too as the season was going so brilliantly for him at every level — and then suddenly to be cut short like that. This takes a bit of getting over but the time I saw him in Killybegs, he was really positive and that has continued since.”
O’Neill said he didn’t want to act as “judge and jury,” when asked if he thought the two-match ban imposed on Wales Neil Taylor for his tackle on Coleman, was too lenient.
“He was remorseful and he sought Seamus out but it was a bad challenge, You always get this ‘ah well, he’s not that type of lad’ and that’s probably very true. But at the same time, it was a very poor challenge, a reckless challenge. I’m not saying people go in determined to break people in two but if you’re going in there (like that), there’s a very decent chance you’re going to injure someone. In terms of the number of games (the ban), I think that is up to someone else.”
Speaking at yesterday’s launch of the 2017 Sports Direct.com FAI Summer Soccer Schools, O’Neill also revealed that, as they did before last summer’s Euro Finals in France, the Irish squad will train in Fota Island, Cork, ahead of the friendlies in New Jersey on June 1 and Dublin on June 4 against, respectively, Mexico and Uruguay.
O’Neill is particularly keen that those Championship players who are not involved in the play-offs get a chance to do some additional squad training after their club seasons end, so the plan is that they will gather in Cork for three days commencing on Tuesday, May 23. After a short break, the squad — which O’Neill anticipates will also be mainly composed of Championship players — will fly to the States on May 29.
“There might be one or two Premier League players but we don’t have that many at this minute,” said O’Neill. “One or two lads who have not played or figured at Premier League level may feel this is what they want to do but mainly it will be some of the Championship players.”
The manager reported the good news that Brighton’s Shane Duffy has now fully recovered from a broken foot (“he’s trained the last couple of weeks pain-free, which is great”) but expressed deep disappointment at losing David Meyler to a season-ending knee injury. And while he emphasised that the proximity of the qualifier against Austria means he is unlikely to use next month’s warm-up games as an opportunity to blood new players, he did indicate that he will continue to keep an eye on the form of highly rated Cork City striker Sean Maguire.
“I have plucked players from the League of Ireland so I’m not averse to that at all,” he said. “The young lad has done very well. I saw quite a few games last season, not so much this season I must admit, but he’s doing well and it’s pretty easy for me to get to the games now.” Finally, O’Neill could not conceal his amusement at reports in Australia purporting to link Roy Keane to the manager’s job at Melbourne City.
“I was speaking to him last night for a moment or two and he’d have mentioned it to me,” he smiled. “But I hope he goes. The sooner he goes, the better. Only Australia? I’d want it a wee bit further.”
Coleman signs new five-year deal at Toffees
Everton defender Seamus Coleman’s recovery from a serious double fracture of his right leg has been boosted by a new five-year contract.
“I’m delighted to get this signed. I’ve been here for a long time and it’s a special club that means a lot to me,” said the right-back.
“Everything had been agreed and I was due to sign it after the international break but unfortunately I got the injury. The chairman messaged me the night of my injury and said, ‘Don’t worry about it because when you come back this contract is still waiting for you’. That sums up what the chairman and this club is all about. Farhad Moshiri (majority shareholder) also sent me cards and said the support was always going to be there. I’m delighted with how the club handled the situation. Knowing that I was going to come back and sign it has definitely helped.”
Coleman has had his cast removed and is walking with the aid of crutches but is not rushing his rehabilitation.
“It’s a case of not doing too much too soon — it’s just baby steps at the moment — but I am getting on well so far,” he added.
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