Monday 5 December 2016

Double injury boost for Ireland ahead of World Cup opener against Serbia

Damian Spellman

Published 02/09/2016 | 12:11

Seamus Coleman of Republic of Ireland during squad training
Seamus Coleman of Republic of Ireland during squad training

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill was handed a boost on Friday morning when key defenders Seamus Coleman and John O'Shea trained ahead of Monday night's World Cup qualifier in Serbia.

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Coleman has not kicked a ball for club Everton this season because of an ankle injury, while O'Shea has been out of action since limping out of Sunderland's 2-1 derby defeat to Middlesbrough on August 21 with a hip problem.

Coleman reported with the rest of the squad at the weekend and has been confident of being fit for the game in Belgrade ever since, although he has been nursed back into action.

O'Shea remained on Wearside for treatment, arriving on Wednesday and watching from the stands as Robbie Keane made the final appearance of his international career against Oman that evening.

Coleman captained the side during the latter stages of the Euro 2016 finals in France with Keane and O'Shea named only among the substitutes and is a likely long-term successor to the LA Galaxy striker in that role.

The news that the pair could be fit is all the more welcome for O'Neill after midfielder James McCarthy had to admit defeat in his attempts to shake off a groin problem, and he has now returned to Everton.

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