Sunday 4 December 2016

'We are lucky to have him' - Roy Keane has the highest of praise for Seamus Coleman

Keane backs skipper to set tone against France as Walters winning race to be fit

Daniel McDonnell in Versailles

Published 25/06/2016 | 02:30

Roy Keane has praised Seamus Coleman
Roy Keane has praised Seamus Coleman
Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane arrives for yesterday’s press conference in Versailles, ahead of tomorrow’s last 16 clash against France. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Roy Keane believes that Seamus Coleman can lead by example again to ensure that Ireland have the right mentality for their daunting Euro 2016 date with hosts France tomorrow.

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Coleman was handed the armband for Wednesday's win over Italy and Martin O'Neill's number two was impressed by his contribution to proceedings.

He feels that the 27-year-old has the personality to prepare the group for an encounter that will have an away game feel - a contrast from Lille - because French fans will dominate the crowd in the Stade de Lyon.

"I can't speak highly enough of Seamus," said Keane yesterday. "We're lucky to have him. I know he's at a good club like Everton but Seamus Coleman could play for any of the big teams, he could do that with his eyes shut.

"He's a great lad around the place and he's got a nice way about him. And when he was the captain the other night, you just knew he wouldn't let us down. He leads in a different way, different captains bring different stuff to the party, but he leads by example. He's a relaxed kid and he's certainly not on an ego trip. You're not supposed to be on an ego trip when you're captain. Strangely enough, I'm not sure what went on in the huddle but apparently he said some pretty good stuff which is good to hear.

"But trust me that doesn't guarantee you'll win a game of football. I was getting a bit cynical about huddles, I was thinking that everybody is doing it and the more times teams do it the more times they seem to lose but obviously it worked the other night. Let's hope it works on Sunday."

Seamus Coleman was Ireland captain against Italy. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Seamus Coleman was Ireland captain against Italy. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Coleman set the tone for the Italian job with a physical challenge inside the opening minute and others followed suit.

The assistant boss approved. "Tackling is part of the game if you get a chance," he said. "It was a must-win situation for us and that suited the players. We'll be trying to keep that mentality for the French game."

He is perplexed that the Irish support in the 59,000-capacity stadium could be restricted to just 4,500 unless resourceful fans get their hands on local tickets over the weekend. "It does seem a bit unfair for the supporters, a bit lopsided," said the Corkman.

"You'd expect the home nation to have gotten an extra few but that's a lot more. It's unfair, particularly the way our fans have travelled and what they've brought to the tournament. I was thinking we'd have maybe 15,000 or 20,000 in the stadium but we can't change it."

Ireland flew into Lyon last night with Martin O'Neill now mulling over whether to change his side for the round of 16 encounter. His hand could be forced as Stephen Ward is struggling with an ankle injury - goalscoring hero Robbie Brady may well have to return to left-back if he misses out.

Jon Walters joined in with some possession work at training in Versailles yesterday as he bids to mount an unlikely comeback bid.

Irish Independent

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