Séamus Coleman has emerged as a doubt for the Republic of Ireland’s opening European Championships qualifier against France at the Aviva Stadium on Monday.
Coleman, 34, was left out of the matchday squad that beat Latvia 3-2 in Dublin on Wednesday night, with Irish manager Stephen Kenny awaiting medical updates on a “slight thigh strain”.
“Séamus is in good form, probably in his best form in the last two years,” said Kenny at the FAI sponsorship announcement with Circle K. “He had that intermittent hamstring injury four or five times last year and he was struggling with it but coming back in for [Everton] as needs must.
“For me it was never about age, people thought he was getting old but it was never about that. He needed a run of frequent training and regular matches in the Premier League have been good for him.
“I was at the game last week at Brentford when they won 1-0 and he played really well. It would be ideal to have him, but regardless we have the capacity to put in strong performances. We will just have to adapt.”
The Everton captain, who lost his place in Kenny’s team last year due to injury, was expected to replace Matt Doherty at right wing back having featured regularly in the top flight of English football this season. Doherty has only played 12 minutes for Atlético Madrid since his move from Tottenham Hotspur in January.
If Coleman does not recover, Doherty will start but the captain’s armband he wore for the first time against Latvia will almost certainly pass to Sheffield United’s John Egan.
On the goalkeeper front, Gavin Bazunu is set to start against the French having featured in the Premier League for Southampton all season, while Caoimhín Kelleher is behind Alisson at Liverpool.
“I think Gavin has been consistently playing for us in a lot of the main games,” said Kenny. “He has been quite consistent.
“In relation to watching the [Latvia] match back, Caoimhín [Kelleher] had no chance for that incredible first goal. The second goal, when I watched it on the sidelines, my initial instinct was he could have done better, he could have saved it, but the ricochet off Nathan Collins from point-blank range made it extremely difficult. I would completely absolve Caoimhín from any responsibility on that second goal.”