Séamus Coleman to captain Ireland on his 50th appearance

Mick McCarthy confirms Everton fullback will start against Gibraltar on Saturday

Mick McCarthy has confirmed Séamus Coleman will start against Gibraltar. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Mick McCarthy has confirmed Séamus Coleman will start against Gibraltar. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Mick McCarthy has confirmed that Séamus Coleman will captain Ireland in Gibraltar on Saturday evening when the Donegal-born defender will make his 50th appearance for the national team.

The manager said that the 30-year-old will start the game and retain the captaincy at his pre-match press conference at the Victoria Stadium on Friday afternoon. McCarthy is expected to have a full squad to choose from but did not give any other indications of what his line up will be, apart from seeming to suggest that Robbie Brady had not played enough first team football at Burnley in the last couple of weeks to make his starting team.

Coleman said he was proud to be reaching the landmark number of appearances, something he never would have expected to achieve, he suggested, when he was making his debut against Wales eight years ago. “Like at club level, you get your first game and then you just want to play your second, you don’t think much beyond that. I’m really proud to get my 50th game but it’s no different, they all feel the same to me really.”

Asked about the need to improve on such a poor 2018, Coleman insisted that the players have put the Nations League behind them: “The last campaign is gone,” he said. “It’s a fresh campaign. Winning games is what we all want to do. We’ve been at the Euros before and we want to be again.” Reacting to a question about importance of winning games with some style, he said: “Whether we do that with 10 per cent possession or 70 per cent possession isn’t the important thing.”

Both men expressed their regret over the news that Jon Walters had been forced to retire from football. The striker, who had been struggling to get over an Achilles problem sustained last September, tweeted the news on Friday afternoon.

“He sent me a message last week asking if he could come in for training so I phoned him back,” McCarthy said. “So I’ve known for the best part of a week that he was thinking of retiring. He doesn’t want to; he wanted to keep on playing but it’s an injury that’s causing it. I’m sorry that I didn’t get a chance to work with him because he’s always been an inspirational figure for Ireland and all of the clubs that he has been at.

“It’s sad when you lose those sorts of players. It’s particularly sad when they have to pack it in because of injury but I wish him well.”

Coleman said that Walters was the sort of player who set the standard for others. “As long as he ‘s been in the squad he’s been nothing short of an inspiration: the pride he has shown. For these new lads coming in, he is an example.

“Unfortunately he got injured before the Euros in 2016 which I thought was a pity because I thought he carried us there. Nights like the one when he scored two goals against Bosnia (in the Euro 2016 play-offs) are what he will be remembered for.”

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