herald

Thursday 18 December 2014

Coleman cuts mustard

THERE are still a full eighteen weeks to go before Ireland next do battle in the World Cup qualifiers with a game away to Sweden, a test which looks even more threatening given the power and panache of the Swedes against England last night.

But Seamus Coleman hopes he has done enough to finally seal a place in the starting XI in games that matter after a man of the match-winning performance against Greece last night.

Coleman, despite being a Premier League regular for three seasons now, was winning only his ninth senior cap last night, the fifth time he has played the full 90 minutes, but the former Sligo Rovers man was one of the plus points from the night.

John O'Shea has been established at right back for some time now, only moved from that position into central defence due to the absence of men like Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger.

But last night was a difficult night for O'Shea and, should central defenders such as St Ledger, Dunne, Ciaran Clark and Darren O'Dea all be available to Giovanni Trapattoni for the Greek match in March, he has a call to make on whether O'Shea should be played in a central role, reverted to right back or just left out of the side with Coleman favoured ahead of him.

"I'd love to be in that team, in the first eleven, for the games to come next March and I'd like to think that I did myself no harm last night anyway," reflected Coleman.

"But we have a lot of big players to come back from injury between now and March and a lot will depend on how your club form is in the build-up to that game. There's even a big break now before the next friendly international, in February, so a lot could happen in that time.

"So it's up to me to go back to the club, do well with Everton and force the manager to make a decision based on that.

"I think the door is more open now than a few months ago. Nights like last night are an opportunity for players like myself and Robbie Brady and David Meyler to make more of an impression and I hope I have done that, given the manager something to think about.

"These are the things I have wanted all of my career, starting for Ireland at Lansdowne Road and getting to play the 90 minutes, which was another bonus for me.

"No matter what you achieve with your club, to me there's no greater honour than to play for your country and my aim now is to get as many caps as I can, try to get into the team on a regular basis," added Coleman.

"It was an okay night for myself and it was positive on a personal level to get the man of the match award, but I'd easily have given up this award in exchange for a positive result from the game," Coleman told the Herald while clutching his prize, a bottle of champagne.

"I think we deserved something from the game but it wasn't to be. We played some lovely football at times, we kept the ball quite well for long periods.

"They scored the goal at a good time for them and then Greece sat back so it was up to us to break them down and we didn't manage to do that, but we deserved to get a draw at least as we were decent last night."

The international football calendar for the year is now closed and it was a tough one for Coleman, who failed to make the squad for Euro 2012 and had to wait until the clash with Germany to make his competitive debut.

"I suppose it was a tough year," he says. "We had the good side of qualifying for the European Championships for the first time in 20-odd years, though the performances out there weren't good enough.

"We have to look forward to 2013. We have two tough games to come, against Sweden and Austria, so the next round of qualifiers won't be easy but we have to try and be ready."

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