Saturday 22 September 2018

Coleman loss adds to list of Irish headaches

Captain Seamus Coleman is set to miss the Poland friendly with a foot injury. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Captain Seamus Coleman is set to miss the Poland friendly with a foot injury. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

There's a football match on tonight too.

WhatsApp messages were the main talking point of the day in Wroclaw but the loss of Seamus Coleman with a foot injury had already upset Martin O'Neill's plans for tonight's game

The manager had already admitted his squad was 'decimated' for Thursday's defeat in Cardiff so the loss of his skipper, Stephen Ward and Jon Walters has further depleted his options.

There was already an element of damned if you do and damned if you don't about this mission for O'Neill.

Poland are a superior side with home advantage, fresh from a promising draw in Italy over the weekend which helped with the process of moving on from a disappointing World Cup.

It would be an achievement to come away from Wroclaw with a positive result, yet it will not really count as credit in the bank if things go badly next month.

Click to view full size graphic
Click to view full size graphic

The memories of a good friendly game will mean little if they struggle to take points from meaningful games with Denmark and Wales.

However, if Ireland end up on the wrong side of another drubbing it will be added to the Cardiff deficit and the fraught events either side of it as evidence of a malaise.

What O'Neill needs from this game is respectability - whatever the outcome may be - and evidence that some of his fringe players can play a part in the rest of the 2018 action.

The group have now been together for eight days, with the squad kept on in Wales for training, and that's a reasonable stint by international standards.

The Derryman has complained that short build-up to games can hinder coherent preparations.

Coleman's woe could open the door for Matt Doherty to come in at right back, although the manager could always just ask Cyrus Christie to drop back from the right side of midfield.

Enda Stevens is a likely replacement for Ward, while the presence of David Meyler at the press conference suggests he is line to come into the fray in central midfield - he does bring some experience to a squad that is short of it.

O'Neill gave a positive mention to Ronan Curtis who has been drafted up from the U-21 squad and is a rarity - an Irish striker in form.

"We have brought a young fellow in now with us who has scored a few goals for Portsmouth - who with respect are actually third tier - but he's making a charge and it is good to see that he is doing well," said O'Neill.

"It will be a difficult evening for us, but we obviously want to try to get back to our strengths as much as we possibly can.

"I'd like to make things as difficult as we could for Poland. We're missing a couple of our main players, but even so we should still do better."

Irish Independent

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