Injured Séamus Coleman rejoins Republic squad

Captain will lend his support to O’Neill’s side in the run-up to Austria showdown

Injured Republic of Ireland skipper Séamus Coleman was due in to join up with the squad on Thursday night. The 28-year-old is facing many more months on the sidelines but opted to travel to Dublin after accepting an invitation from Martin O’Neill to spend time with the rest of the players in the lead up to Sunday’s World Cup qualifier.

Coleman, who has signed a new contract at Everton since the tackle by Wales' Neil Taylor, that broke both of the bones in his lower leg, has made it clear since that night in late March just how much he misses playing for his club and Ireland. But he has thrown himself into his rehabilitation which started, after surgery, back at home in Donegal before he returned with his wife and daughter to Merseyside.

The already popular defender will have won more friends there this week with a video message on behalf of the club to a young Everton fan, Evie Mills, who was injured in the recent attack in Manchester on a concert by Ariana Grande but he was back again, mixing with family and friends, in Lifford last week to be presented with the freedom of Donegal.

“We’re homebirds,” he said of himself and his locally-born wife Rachel, in a lengthy interview with the Podcast An Irishman Abroad, given to promote FAISeasonTickets.ie just before he got injured but only due to be published online today.

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“Our little thing in the summer is to pack up the jeep and get on the ferry to Holyhead and enjoy that drive home to our family for the few weeks.”

This year, that summer schedule may be affected by the work he is doing with the club’s medical staff but it is his family, he maintains, that has been critical to keeping him focused as he embarks on what looks likely to be a long road to the full recovery he is expected to make.

Coleman has spoken since about his belief that Taylor did not intend to injure him but he steered clear, it seems, of the social media storm that followed the incident with the defender admitting that though he has some 117,000 followers on the platform, he abandoned twitter around five years ago when he started to appreciate the challenge of attempting to connect with fans that way.

A reputation

“I took a decision,” he says. “I was young at the time. I enjoyed it, interacting with the fans, and when things are going well with the fans, you are reading it. When they aren’t going well, they are reading it and I thought, ‘I know myself if things are going well. The manager will tell me if they are not. I don’t need someone telling me online that I am great, or that I am crap.’ It was a decision I made not to look at it after games, to see what was being said about me on twitter.”

He retains a reputation, though, for being good with people and supportive of causes, something that appears to extend well beyond being the one to get in front of a camera at his club because, perhaps, he is the only one still about the place.

“We get paid very well and if we can help people, so be it,” he says.

“I’m sure there are players out there that have been in this scene since they were 15 or 16 and they don’t know the real world. Luckily for me I understand what it’s like not to be earning that money from a young age. It goes back to the way you’ve been brought up by your parents. I was brought up in a good way so I understand that there are people struggling out there.”

That upbringing, he says, made him the person he is and a big part of that personality is the work ethic he possesses. It is the same sort of outlook, though, that he says he commonly sees in other Irish players these days.

“I think it comes from within,” he says. “I think you either have it or you don’t. I played GAA [with local club na gCealla Beaga] and that fuelled it even more. I’ve always had it. It wasn’t the GAA that gave it to me. That definitely helped me. But I had it. And we had such a great club, such a great group of lads and we won a lot of things and that just fuels it even more.”

“As professional footballers, though, for me it’s about standards. I don’t mind players making mistakes – I make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes – but standards is about trying to do the right things, wanting to do the right things.

“All the Irish players are the same: we all do our jobs. We’re very lucky like that. You’ll not meet any of our squad who don’t put a shift in.”

Captaining the team, he has said, has been one of the greatest honours of his career. He’ll miss out on the experience this Sunday but, he says, “standing in that tunnel before you go out with the captain’s armband is a feeling that will never leave me”.