Euro 2016

Republic of Ireland are afraid of no one - Seamus Coleman

Seamus Coleman battles for the ball with Holland's Jetro Willems (left) during the recent international friendly at the Aviva Stadium
Andy Watters in Versailles

SEAMUS COLEMAN says Ireland are “afraid of nobody” as he looked ahead to Monday night’s “massive” Group E opener against Sweden.

Donegal native Coleman is well aware defeat to the Swedes would torpedo the Republic of Ireland’s chances of making the knockout stages, but he says the Boys in Green won’t start at Stade de France worrying about losing - they intend to win the game and go on to play Belgium and Italy with confidence.

“It’s massive,” the Evertonian acknowledged.

“It’s massive for all the players and all the fans and we want to do well. Winning would give you a great chance of going through, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world either. But we want to win that first game, of course we do, we’ll be doing everything we can to do that and there's no reason why we can’t beat the other two teams as well.”

Killybegs right-back Coleman says manager Martin O’Neill has forensically gone through the Sweden set-up to find weaknesses Ireland can exploit on Monday night: “The manager is big into that [studying the opposition] and we enjoy it,” he said.

“It gives us every chance and that’s how the game has gone, you need to know everything about your opponent and that’s what we’ve done. Hopefully it will help us.”

While he is a fan of Zlatan Ibrahimovic - “he’s a great player” - Coleman adds the Ireland defence won’t focus solely on the Paris St Germain goal-machine: “As professionals and a coaching staff, you’re not stupid enough to know that you only focus on Ibrahimovic,” he said.

“We will focus on him as well, without a shadow of a doubt, as he is a top player, but they have other players that we have to worry about as well and the manager will show us that in the coming days.”

Coleman is confident Ireland can fight their way back into the group if the worst should happen and Sweden win at Stade de France: “It’s massive, but there are three games in the group, not just one,” he said.

“We’ll be going out to do all we can to win that first game, but it's not the end of the world. Remember, we beat Germany at home and drew away. We’re a good unit at the minute and we all know what we’re about. We have a good defensive record and we can score goals. We’re afraid of nobody.”

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The Republic will train on Saturday and Sunday at Trianon Palace in Versailles, with injury doubt Jon Walters apparently “progressing well” as he recovers from an Achilles problem.

“It's been quite intense since we’ve met up really, but it’s getting a bit more real now since we’ve got over here,” said Coleman.

“The facilities are brilliant and training has been good and we're all training hard to make sure we're in that team on Monday. Everyone out there feels as if they have a chance of being in the team.

"You can see it has stepped up a level and everyone is working hard to perform well and be in the team.”

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Euro 2016