Martin O'Neill and fellow players have predicted that Séamus Coleman will make a full recovery from the double fracture he sustained in a challenge by Welsh wing-back Neil Taylor on Friday night, but even the medical staff are unable to say just when he will be back, the Republic of Ireland manager added.
Members of the Ireland squad visited their team-mate in hospital over the weekend as the 28-year-old Everton defender starts his recovery from the surgery he required, and the bulk of them will return to training this morning at Abbotstown ahead of tomorrow’s friendly international against Iceland.
Birmingham City midfielder Stephen Gleeson has been drafted into the panel for that game, but four of the squad’s more established stars – John O’Shea, James McCarthy, Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters – have all returned to the clubs in England.
“He had the operation yesterday [Saturday] morning at 8.30am. It was successful,” said O’Neill of Coleman in a BBC radio interview on Sunday morning. “He has realised everything that has happened and is very disappointed.
“It will take some time to heal, it’s a double break, but it has been pinned up and screwed in. I know the doctors and surgeons are all very pleased with the way the operation has gone and now it’s time for recuperation.”
Asked when he thought the Irish captain might return to action, O’Neill, whose team have four World Cup qualifiers to play in the autumn, admitted that it was pretty much impossible to tell.
“I’m not sure,” he said, “I would only be guessing. Even the doctors and surgeons wouldn’t be terribly sure. Sometimes there are complications and injuries can be more prolonged; other times it can be clean and clear sailing.
“It will take some time, but Séamus has great determination and sometimes those things work very much in your favour, in terms of recovery.”
In an interview with The Irish Times, meanwhile, Brentford midfielder Alan Judge, who suffered a similar injury almost a year ago,says he has complete confidence that Coleman will return the same player, but also suggests that his own experience has taught him a timeframe is impossible to predict and that the Donegal man should not rush his return.
Judge, who has not played almost 12 months after the double fracture he sustained in a Championship game against Ipswich, is hoping that a scan this week might pave the way for a return to full training and, potentially, some competitive action before the end of the season.
The 28-year-old is out of contract at Griffin Park in the summer but, having been linked with Newcastle back in January, he has strongly hinted that he is on the verge of signing a new deal with the west London club.
“I’ll find out what’s going to happen in the next week or so,” he says. “I’ll make a decision, but Brentford to me, at this moment in time, feels like the right place to be. They’ve been good to me and I feel that when I’ve been playing I’ve been good for them, so we fit now and leaving when my last game was the one where I broke my leg never felt completely right. Hopefully you’ll see a bit of news in the next few days.”
Beyond that, he says, he wants to play his way back into Martin O’Neill’s plans. “I have to get fit first,” he says, “but I don’t want to be a player who has just played once for Ireland. Obviously I was on track to make a few appearances and I just want to get back on track.”