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Tuesday 19 June 2018

'Holding grudge against Taylor won't do me any good'

Damage: Wales’ Neil Taylor
Damage: Wales’ Neil Taylor

Tonight's friendly against Turkey in Antalya isn't just any old game for Seamus Coleman.

It's cap No. 44 for the defender but it will also be his first time to wear the Ireland shirt since he suffered that horrific leg break, in World Cup action at home to Wales 10 years ago.

Coleman had to show steel and character to recover from that but he insists there's no room in his head for a grudge against Neil Taylor, the opponent who inflicted the injury on him.

The injury had huge implications, Martin O'Neill wondering out loud before the game if Coleman's absence for the latter stages of the World Cup qualifying campaign was the difference between qualification and failure. "Had he been fit, I think we may have made it, who knows. He would have given us a much better opportunity," O'Neill said.

Coleman admits it was hard to watch the closing stages of that World Cup bid from the sideline, aware of what Taylor had deprived him of.

"I haven't even thought of Neil Taylor five times since the injury," Coleman said in Antalya last night.

"He played a part in the tackle, and it wasn't a great tackle. I was going for the ball, he was a bit high.

"But these things happen in a tough international fixture. If I hold any grudge against him it's not going to help me in my rehab. He has to get on with his journey and I have to get on with mine.

"If I hold any anger towards him it won't help me. Let him carry on with what he has to do, and I'll crack on myself.

"He sent a message and that was fine with me, no problem. It's a year ago now and I've got things to look forward to. The tackle will always be brought up but I have to crack on with my thing now."

The sight of Coleman in an Ireland shirt once again will be welcome for Irish eyes, for the 264 travelling supporters expected here in the impressive Antalyaspor Stadium tonight and for TV viewers back home.

He had setbacks at Everton once he was match fit but he's upbeat about his fitness now and he says he never doubted his ability to make a recovery.

"That never crossed my mind from day one or any way through the injury," he revealed.

"I knew if I did everything I was told and the work I needed to do in the gym, that I'd be back on the football pitch.

"I'm back now for five or six games, I feel good in the games and hopefully I can do the same in the Irish shirt. I never doubted for a second that I'd get back playing football.

'Physically, thank God, it's been okay. I don't finish training and need to ice it," he added.

"I would have loved to have been back quicker and played a part in trying to qualify, but that wasn't to be and I would have been rushing it.

"But I'm on track with being back. A lot is made of my injury as captain of the country, but Alan Judge has also had a very tough two years and it's amazing to see him back and credit to the manager for showing faith in him."

If he stays fit. Coleman will hit the 50-cap marl by the end of 2018 but tonight in Turkey could see a rash of debuts, the skipper ready to offer advice.

"Come in, keep the head down, work hard and do as the manager asks.

"You got called up for a reason, try and show that if you get a chance. If you don't a chance, come back in, train hard and eventually if you are good enough then the manager will play you."

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