Seamus Coleman can bounce back from broken leg just like Henrik Larsson did says Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill
SEAMUS Coleman is already looking to the future as he sets out on the long road to recovery from his horrific double leg fracture.
The Republic of Ireland skipper remains in hospital in Dublin after undergoing surgery on Saturday morning to pin the broken tibia and fibula in his right leg.
The injury came as a result of a challenge by Wales wing-back Neil Taylor during Friday night’s 0-0 World Cup qualifying draw at the Aviva Stadium.
Manager Martin O’Neill visited Coleman on Sunday and, while he revealed the 28-year-old is understandably down as he comes to terms with what will be a lengthy lay-off, he is taking a pragmatic approach to his recovery.
Asked about his own emotions as Coleman lay in agony on the pitch in the aftermath of the incident, O’Neill said: “The first reaction is that you know you have lost a great player for a start.
“You know the sort of pain that he’s going to be going through, obviously the immediate pain and then his recovery.
“It’s a major blow, not only for the player, but obviously for his family, people who were at the game watching that.
“But as Seamus mentioned to me the other day, he just said that it has happened now, he can’t do anything about it and it’s what he does now in the next few months that is very, very important.
“I think he’s just beginning to come to terms with it. I saw him yesterday and he’s still pretty down about it. He’s not in as much pain, the operation went very well and it’s just a matter of coming to terms with it.”
The injury cast a pall over the game, and tonight’s friendly against Iceland, with O’Neill admitting Coleman’s absence from the camp has been felt keenly.
He said: “Even the result on Friday evening was secondary. It’s a bad blow for the player, who has been terrific for us. He’s having a wonderful season at Everton and he has been missed around the place over the last couple of days too.
“I think he’s very positive and he will get into recovery mode as quickly as possible and then it’s up to him.”
Doctors have as yet been unable to put any time frame on Coleman’s recovery amid speculation that he will be out of action for at least six months.
But O’Neill is hoping he will return as good as ever having seen former Celtic striker Henrik Larsson bounce back from a similar injury.
He said: “Before I went to Celtic, about five or six months before that, Henrik Larsson had a very serious injury and he recovered magnificently and the injury didn’t bother him again from then until the end of his career, so players have recovered.
“Great players have broken their legs and come back, and Seamus, obviously it’s very early for him to start considering all those things, but he is positive.
“Naturally, as I mentioned earlier at the start, he’s down, as he would be as the realisation that he is going to be out of action for quite some considerable time has dawned on him, so those type of things don’t just take five minutes to get over.
“But he’s very strong, he’s got a lot of good people around him, his family is very, very strong as well and he is positive that he will be back and as good as ever.”
Much of the talk since Friday’s game has surrounded the two tackles which left Coleman’s campaign in tatters and John O’Shea needing stitches after he was caught high and late by Wales’ star man Gareth Bale.
While Taylor was dismissed for his challenge, Bale was only booked for his seconds earlier.
Wales boss Chris Coleman defended his players – indeed, he said Bale wanted to appeal against his caution, something he could only do on the grounds of mistaken identity – but O’Neill remains adamant that both tackles were nasty.
He said: “I thought both challenges when I have seen them back have been very, very poor. Very poor indeed.”
Robbie Brady to lead depleted Republic of Ireland against Iceland in friendly clash
MARTIN O’Neill will hand some of his Republic of Ireland hopefuls a chance to prove they belong at international level against Iceland.
The sides meet in a friendly at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium tonight with most of O’Neill’s first-choice XI either injured – in the case of skipper Seamus Coleman, seriously – or having been sent back to their respective clubs.
Robbie Brady, who was suspended for Friday’s goalless World Cup qualifier against Wales during which Coleman suffered a double leg fracture, will wear the armband and lead out a side which will have a very different look about it.
Preston’s former Dundalk duo Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan, Brentford defender John Egan, Derby counterpart Alex Pearce, Bristol City midfielder Callum O’Dowda, Leeds’ Eunan O’Kane, Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes and Conor Hourihane of Aston Villa are among those who could benefit.
Manager O’Neill said: “You don’t want to give out caps just because they are there, you want them to earn it. But for experience, you would want that.
“Some players who have just come into the squad – like the two lads at Preston – have acquitted themselves very well in training and they are basically just starting out in their international careers.
“Some players who have been around the squad but haven’t played regularly may well play as well, and whatever length of time they have on the pitch tomorrow evening, it’s a chance to try to impress, and that is what they will try to do.
“There are a couple of lads who have gone home – Jonathan Walters and Glenn Whelan – so they won’t play.
“In all honesty and in fairness to clubs, some of the lads who played on Friday night who are still with us certainly won’t start in the game and might not participate at all.”
The game will bring together two sides who impressed at last summer’s Euro 2016 finals, with Iceland going a stage further than Ireland by reaching the quarter-finals thanks to a victory over England.
They are currently ranked 23rd in the Fifa rankings, one place higher than the Republic, and like O’Neill’s men sit second in their World Cup qualifying group, in their case after a narrow victory in Kosovo on Friday.
O’Neill said: “Iceland were brilliant at the Euros, they won on Friday night and they’ll present us with a few problems.
“But I’m hoping that the lads who will start in the game and who will come on will actually go and basically press a claim for future international matches.”