D-day for doubtful Coleman
Published 05/10/2015 | 02:30
Séamus Coleman will be assessed by Irish medics this morning with the Everton star's hopes of involvement in this week's crunch Euro 2016 qualifiers fading after he sat out yesterday's Merseyside derby.
Coleman has struggled to shake off a hamstring problem that he sustained in his side's Premier League win over Chelsea on September 12, with positive bulletins from his club lulling Ireland into a false sense of security.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez was sceptical about the player's chances of figuring against Germany on Thursday and Poland on Sunday.
"Séamus was desperate to play today and desperate to play for Ireland but medically he wasn't ready," he said.
"I don't know how long it is going to take. I doubt it will be two or three days and he will be fine.
"I think it is going to be a bit longer than that. We are going to work with Ireland and hopefully get Séamus on the pitch as quick as we can."
With England boss Roy Hodgson also waiting on news in relation to John Stones, the Spaniard later added: "It is very unlikely over the next seven days that any of the two players will be available."
Losing Coleman would be a devastating blow for O'Neill considering that he has tinkered around to find a system which suits the attacking instincts of the right full. He was excellent in last month's win over Georgia.
Twelve months ago, the 26-year-old also missed the away encounter with the Germans, a game that ended with an improbable draw thanks to John O'Shea's late heroics.
David Meyler performed admirably as a stand-in on that occasion but it's likely that Derby's Cyrus Christie would step in this time around after his goalscoring cameo against Gibraltar in Faro when Coleman was rested as a precaution.
Meyler could still come into the frame in his usual position, however, with a raft of injury issues leaving O'Neill short of options.
With Glenn Whelan suspended for Thursday, the loss of Reading's Stephen Quinn to a knee setback is a cause for concern. If O'Neill is to retain his diamond shape in midfield then Meyler will be a candidate to support James McCarthy and Jeff Hendrick.
O'Neill cut his 40-man squad to 27 on Saturday but changed his mind on Darron Gibson over the weekend with the fit-again Derryman drafted in for extra cover in that department. He was an unused sub at Goodison Park while Aiden McGeady again failed to make the matchday squad.
The fact that the Glaswegian has not figured for Everton since the last international window means that it would be a major risk to pitch him in this week. James McClean is also banned for the German encounter, thus complicating O'Neill's options if he wanted to switch to a strategy that favoured wingers.
But his real headache is in the defensive department with a brace for Bayern Munich stars Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski in their destruction of Borussia Dortmund illustrating the difficulty of forthcoming opposition.
Ciaran Clark is out of the double header with a quad muscle issue and Marc Wilson is staying in Stoke for treatment on his calf with Poland the realistic target.
It means John O'Shea will be partnered at the Aviva by either Richard Keogh or Paul McShane.