'Never for a second did I doubt that I'd be back playing football, no.': Seamus Coleman

Republic of Ireland skipper Seamus Coleman always believed he would return to the top of his game after suffering an horrific double leg fracture.

On Friday night, the Everton full-back is likely to play for his country for the first time a day short of a year since his leg was shattered in a challenge with Wales defender Neil Taylor during a World Cup qualifier in Dublin.

It has been a long road back for the 29-year-old, but he insists he always believed he would be back as good as ever.

Coleman said: "That never crossed my mind from day one or any way through the injury. I knew if I did everything I was told and the work I needed to do in the gym, that I'd be back in the football pitch.

"I've been back now for five or six games and I've felt very good in the games, and hopefully I can do the same in the Irish shirt.

"But never for a second did I doubt that I'd be back playing football, no."

Coleman is one of a handful of Martin O'Neill's senior players among a new-look squad of 25 which flew out to Turkey on Monday, but his inclusion has come as a significant boost on and off the pitch as the manager begins the process of rebuilding in the wake of the nation's World Cup qualification disappointment.

O'Neill said: "Naturally I'm delighted to see him back. I sometimes think he doesn't know himself how influential he is, not only in the dressing room, but on the field of play, that's the main part.

"It almost goes without saying that we missed him. Had he been fit, I think we may have made it, who knows? He would have given us a much better opportunity.

"I've said to him - I'd rather say it when he's not in the room - he's an absolutely world-class player.

"You talk about someone with a leg break getting back and I have to reiterate that when we saw him in the hospital in the first couple of nights, where he was really down, you felt an inner determination he would get through. That's just his character.

"We as a group are delighted, the players are and certainly the management team very much so. If he can stay clear from serious injury, who knows what lies in store for him in the next couple of years?"

O'Neill could hand debuts to some of the eight uncapped men in his squad, but there will definitely be a second international appearance for Bradford keeper Colin Doyle 10 years and 304 days after his first.

The challenge to all those who are handed their chance is to make sure they do enough to warrant another call-up, although the manager is not putting too much pressure on the newcomers.

He said: "I mentioned a couple of days ago that it wouldn't be the death knell of anyone that they didn't play well, but they have to balance themselves with the number of opportunities, which are probably quite limited.

"It's great opportunity for the players and just to make a mark in the game and be in consideration for future matches."

- Press Association & Digital Desk

 

Most Read in Sport