Sunday 23 October 2016

Coleman is ready to make his own golden memories

Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy of Republic of Ireland during squad training. Photo: Sportsfile
Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy of Republic of Ireland during squad training. Photo: Sportsfile

Thoughts are crystallising now. As the clock winds down towards the Stade de France in a week, Seamus Coleman is beginning to let the tournament in.

He watched the last one at home in Killybegs with an Irish shirt on but he is a key figure this time around. If he has a good tournament, there's a good chance Ireland will have too.

But he is one of Martin O'Neill's imponderables. His fitness towards the end of the season raised doubts, particularly about the number of hamstring strains he's been picking up.

He hasn't played much in the last six weeks but when Roy Keane tore into some of his squad-mates for their poor attitude to preparation and training, Coleman was listed among the angels, players who give it their all.

This means that fitness should not be issue, even if match sharpness might be.

"I could have played the last game for Everton but what's the point in risking it with the big summer ahead?" said Coleman.

"Everybody is different and I would like to think I am quite a fit lad. I played 90 minutes against Holland I felt like I hadn't been away fitness-wise. Training is quite tough anyway, the boss always has quite tough sessions, so he will get your fitness up.

"I go out to train and give it my all. That's a minimum you have to give every week, whether you are playing at club or international level.

"You can't play well every week but there is no excuse if you don't give a hundred per cent to help the team."

Coleman is now fully focused on Sweden and the opening game.

"The first game is all that is in our minds. Everyone has said how important it is to get off to a good start and hopefully we can do that. I can't see why we can't do well in this group. I genuinely believe that.


"But I don't want to put all our eggs in one basket and say if we don't get a result against Sweden then we're done."

From the outside looking in, the preparation has hardly been a roaring success, given Keane's outburst and the result against Belarus but Coleman has nothing but praise for O'Neill's approach.

"The boss has been brilliant since he came in with stuff like that. He gives you time to go see your family and I think that comes back on him as well because when we go out on the pitch we realise he has been good to us and we want to perform as best we can."

Coleman reckons that O'Neill's decision to embrace a diamond formation in midfield will suit his game nicely.

"The last night we played (against Belarus) with narrow midfielders so I could bomb on a bit more and thankfully I got forward a little bit. I really enjoyed getting up the pitch and trying to make things happen.

Coleman said recently that he hasn't been able to express the attacking side of his game as often at Everton in recent times.

"When I referred to that it was Gerry Deulofeu playing in front of me and I couldn't really get forward as much because he hugged the touchline out wide.

"That was for the benefit of the team and he was setting up goals for Lukaku every week. So, you have to go with how the game is going, but I do like to get forward at every opportunity."

Coleman is now fully submerged in the preparation and even snapchat might be switched off in the next few days.

"I might have to get off snapchat but it will be nice to see some of it as well because if you could cut yourself in half, then one half of you would want to be there as a player and another half as a fan.

"We're the lucky ones. We're fans on the pitch. We want to make everyone proud and not just go there and come back and say 'aw, we had a hard group'."

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