Coleman will come back fitter and stronger from leg break, says Long
Shane Long has backed Republic of Ireland captain Seamus Coleman to come back "fitter and stronger" from an horrific leg fracture.
Coleman was rushed straight to hospital after being carried from the pitch on a stretcher following Neil Taylor's ugly challenge during Friday night's 0-0 World Cup qualifier draw with Wales.
The damage to the 28-year-old Everton full-back's leg was so gruesome that television bosses decided not to show replays of the incident.
Striker Long comforted his team-mate on the pitch and is confident that he will return to his best after what promises to be a lengthy lay-off.
He said: "It's not nice. I was trying to comfort him on the pitch. He's loved by everyone, he's a big player and he will be a big loss.
"He was in a lot of pain. It's a bad injury, so I tried to settle him and relax him. It's not nice to see that happen to anybody, but I think everybody loves Seamus and it's hard to see when he goes down like that.
"I'm sure he will come back fitter and stronger."
Aston Villa's Taylor, who himself spent six months on the sidelines after breaking an ankle in 2012, was instantly dismissed by Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli and Wales boss Chris Coleman later revealed he was "devastated" at the outcome.
Long said: "I think he has got it done to him before, so I suppose he went in worried about the challenge. He caught him high and I think he was in tears afterwards. He knows the pain Seamus was in because, as I said, he's been there before.
"It was a horrible challenge and there is no defending it, but I don't think he meant to do it."
Coleman's misfortune struck just seconds after fellow defender John O'Shea escaped serious injury after being caught by a similarly forceful tackle from Wales star Gareth Bale.
The Real Madrid front man escaped with a booking - he will miss June's trip to Serbia as a result - and Long admitted he might have been fortunate after O'Shea was left needing stitches to repair the wound to his shin.
Long said: "He caught him high. I think that was honest as well as he was trying to get the ball and score a goal.
"Little things like that, if they go your way, can change the game, but I don't think there was any malice in it. The referee did all right. He let the game go and tried to keep it fair for both sides."
Wales had enjoyed the better of the game without unduly troubling Ireland before they were reduced to 10 men, but the home side finished strongly with James McClean seeing a goal-bound shot deflected just wide.
However, Bale could have won it for the visitors five minutes from time with a raking effort which skimmed a post.
Serbia's win in Georgia means they now top Group D on goal difference from Ireland with both sides on 11 points and Wales back in third and four adrift at the halfway stage.
Long said: "It was disappointing when they went down to 10 men that we didn't kick on and get the three points, but a point isn't a bad result. We're still nicely sitting in the group and it's all to play for.
"Three points would have been brilliant, it would have opened up a bit of a gap ahead of Wales. But as I said, they are a great side and they have got some good players. They're a threat every time they get the ball, so a point isn't a bad result.
"We'll take it and move on. It's not a bad start to the group."