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Coleman focused on future ahead of Republic return after double leg break

The Republic of Ireland captain lost 10 months of his career after being injured during a World Cup qualifier in March 2017.

Seamus Coleman is focusing on the future as he returns to competitive international action for the first time since suffering his horrific double leg break 18 months ago.

The Republic of Ireland captain lost 10 months of his career following a tackle from Wales defender Neil Taylor during a World Cup qualifier in March 2017.

Coleman missed the rest of the Republic’s World Cup campaign – which ended in play-off defeat to Denmark – and has had to wait until the start of the new UEFA Nations League competition to grace the competitive international arena again.

Coincidentally, Coleman’s return comes against Wales at the same Cardiff City Stadium venue where the Republic won a crucial World Cup qualifier 1-0 last October.

“That night in Dublin is something that I’m not really thinking about, it’s 18 months ago,” Coleman said ahead of Thursday’s Nations League opener in the Welsh capital.

“I’ve not forgotten about it, but it’s something from the past. Pulling into the stadium (for training) was a great feeling. I was here as a supporter to see the lads get that 1-0 victory, and it was a great result and a great night.

“These games are a little bit different to playing other nationalities because you do know the players you’re up against, but they are still great games to play in.”

The Republic have had a troubled build-up to the fixture with a raft of injuries ruling out the likes of James McClean, Robbie Brady and Shane Long.

Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter withdrew from the squad following a spat with assistant manager Roy Keane, and West Ham defender Declan Rice is also absent as he ponders switching allegiance to England.

Keane’s fiery personality has been a talking point in Irish football circles, and Coleman was asked at his pre-match press conference whether he had ever fallen out with the former Manchester United and Republic captain.

“I wouldn’t say falling out,” Coleman said. “Roy’s very demanding, he was a top player and he expects the best. As players we understand that and if you make a mistake in training he’ll tell you.

“That’s no different to the manager (Martin O’Neill) and, as professional footballers, that’s something we have to deal with.”

Rice has won three Republic caps, but the fact they have all come in friendly internationals means he is allowed to switch to the country of his birth.

Rice made himself unavailable for this Republic squad as he considers his international future, and Coleman said that decision should not be held against the teenager.

“Some people back home might not like to hear it, but he’s a 19-year-old boy who was born in England,” he said.

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Declan Rice is considering switching allegiance to England (Dave Thompson/PA)

“But that’s no reason why he can’t feel part-English and be a proud Irishman.

“I saw him after the Turkey game when he got man-of-the-match and he embraced his father in the tunnel.

“That’s not for show, that’s genuine. He was genuinely proud to play in the games that he did and in an ideal world we’ll get him back.

“I know he is proud to have played for Ireland and we’ll welcome Declan with open arms if he decides to come back to us.”

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