Belfast Telegraph

Keane calls on Republic stars to follow Coleman's example

By Damian Spellman

Roy Keane has told the Republic of Ireland players to put their bodies on the line just as Seamus Coleman did if they are to achieve their World Cup dream.

Everton full-back Coleman met up with the squad on Thursday as he continues his recovery from the horrific double leg fracture he suffered during the 0-0 draw with Wales in March.

The Republic skipper is unlikely to play any further part in the campaign as a result of his injury and is relying on his team-mates to book him a trip to Russia next summer in his absence.

However, assistant manager Keane has warned the players they have to be prepared to do the same as Coleman if they are to get the result they want from their Group D showdown with Austria at the Aviva tomorrow.

Keane said: "You want players playing on the edge, we want players putting their bodies on the line, which lads have done before, people like Seamus.

"You go out on that pitch and you put your bodies on the line and be ready to accept whatever goes on, whether it be like Seamus, breaking your leg...

"People have done a lot more for their country than breaking their legs - people have died for their country - so we want people to put their bodies on the line, give everything they have.

"I suppose my mindset anyway with any group of players I'm working with is, 'We're going into battle on Sunday and be ready, be ready to put your body on the line like Seamus did. You have got to follow that'."

Coleman watched training at Abbotstown yesterday with his rehabilitation well under way, and Keane revealed he is progressing well. He said: "He seems fine. He was in good spirits last night and his recovery is going well. Seamus has got an injury, but he will get over it, like lots of other players.

"Nobody died. He broke his leg and that will heal. He's in good hands with Everton and I'm led to believe the surgeons are really happy with how it's gone.

"It is nice to have him around the place and hopefully he will bring some positive energy to the group. He's here for a few days and the game. It's a pity he's not able to play, but whoever starts at right-back won't let us down."

That is likely to be Derby's Cyrus Christie, but manager Martin O'Neill has decisions to make elsewhere with goalkeeper Darren Randolph under pressure from Keiren Westwood, and Shane Duffy, Richard Keogh and John O'Shea battling it out for the two central defensive berths.

However, Keane said: "Don't lose sleep about the manager having to make tough decisions. That's the name of the game."

O'Neill has at least had one problem solved with striker Jonathan Walters, who captained the team against Uruguay last Sunday, having returned to training after a knee problem, with Shane Long and David McGoldrick already ruled out by injury.

But Keane has brushed aside talk of players who will not be involved tomorrow - Austria boss Marcel Koller could be without six of the men who started the 1-0 defeat to the Republic in Vienna in November, while full-back Andreas Ulmer will be missing as he is getting married.

He said: "Don't waste your time talking about players who aren't here. We'll focus on the players who are here, who are available, and it will be the same for the opposition. I've no interest in players who aren't here."

Meanwhile, O'Shea is among a number of senior players not included on Sunderland's retained list in the wake of relegation.

The vastly-experienced Republic international's current deal expires at the end of the month and, as things stand, he will leave the club this summer.

However, O'Shea, 36, has indicated he will not discuss his future on Wearside until after tomorrow's clash with Austria, and there remains a chance he could yet be offered and accept an extension.

Belfast Telegraph


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