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Coleman: Keane to be captain if fit

Seamus Coleman would happily hand the captain's armband back to Robbie Keane for Ireland's final World Cup qualifier.

The 33-year-old LA Galaxy striker missed Friday night's 3-0 defeat by Germany in Cologne with an ankle injury, but is battling to be fit for Tuesday night's visit of Kazakhstan to the Aviva Stadium as a difficult campaign draws to a close.

Everton full-back Coleman was asked to lead the team out at the Rhein Energie Stadium on his 25th birthday, and although he was thrilled at the honour, he would welcome Keane's return along with those of Richard Dunne and John O'Shea, who were suspended for the Germany game.

He said: "I'd say Robbie might be back, hopefully. We need our best players back, and obviously John O'Shea is back as well.

"I enjoyed tonight, but if we can get the best players back, I will be more than happy to give it back."

Coleman only learned of his elevation on the afternoon of the game, and he admitted interim boss Noel King's decision took the edge off his advancing age.

The former Sligo Rovers defender said: "It was a very good birthday present. It makes the 25 not so bad - I don't like being 25, I'm pushing on a bit.

"It was a good present. Noel just called me aside and asked me how I would feel about it, and obviously I was delighted.

"Obviously it's disappointing, the result, and everyone in there is disappointed that we were beaten, but to captain your country is something I will always have and it's a very proud moment for me."

That Coleman was unable to cap his big night with a positive result was not unexpected as the runaway Group C leaders eventually wore Ireland down, although they had to wait until injury time for Mesut Ozil to ease them clear with the visitors threatening on several occasions to drag themselves back into the game.

However, there was at least no repeat of the humiliation the Irish suffered on their own pitch in October last year when Germany left Dublin having torn them apart in a 6-1 romp.

Coleman said: "It was important not to come away and let the same thing happen. I know it was a 3-0 scoreline and our keeper was brilliant, but I thought we played better."

While Germany start preparations for their trip to Brazil, Ireland will continue the process of recruiting a replacement for sacked manager Giovanni Trapattoni and turn their thoughts towards the next qualifying campaign for Euro 2016.

In the meantime, they will complete their fixtures against Kazakhstan at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday evening hoping to end a run of three successive defeats.

Coleman said: "We want to finish on a win. As players playing for your country, you want to win as many games as you can, but for Noel as well.

"He's come in for two games and it would be nice to get a victory for him.

"Hopefully on Tuesday night, we can show the other side of our game, how good we are on the ball at times, when we are at home to Kazakhstan."


From Belfast Telegraph