Sunday 18 March 2018

'I'll be wearing the green shirt, not a blue shirt' - Seamus Coleman reaches peak captain mode ahead of Wales clash

Seamus Coleman won't exchange pleasantries with Ashley Williams (inset) tonight
Seamus Coleman won't exchange pleasantries with Ashley Williams (inset) tonight
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Seamus Coleman says Ireland can draw inspiration from recent history in tonight's World Cup qualifier with Wales.

Martin O'Neill's side enter the Aviva Stadium clash with a two-point lead over Serbia at the top of Group D with Wales a further two points back in third.

Irish preparations for the game have been hindered by the loss of five players from the side that took full points from Austria in November.

However, Irish skipper Seamus Coleman says that the hosts can look to the memory of last June's defeat of Italy at Euro 2016 - and the successes over Germany and Bosnia that helped Ireland to make it there - as a reference point. O'Neill made four switches before the Italy fixture and the squad regrouped to deliver a result and Coleman feels winning is starting to become a habit.

"When the manager came in, we were probably in a sticky spell but slowly but surely we started to get that confidence back and started to win games, some very big games," said Coleman.

"We go back to Shane Long's goal against Germany, the night in Bosnia and then the Italy game.

"All of those gave us confidence that you can beat most teams you play. Obviously Wales have their own story as well, they had a great Euros too."

O'Neill feels that replicating the Lille display will be necessary to secure a result against a visiting side featuring Gareth Bale.

Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy stretch at training ahead of tonight’s game against Wales. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy stretch at training ahead of tonight’s game against Wales. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

"We will have to produce a performance like that tomorrow evening," he said. "I think the players are ready for it.

"That effort against Italy, it's not a distant memory. It is in the past, but some of the players can call upon that experience again and go for it."

Coleman was made captain for that fixture and was duly appointed to the role on a full-time basis.

He will walk out next to his Everton colleague Ashley Williams but insists there will be no time for pleasantries.

"No," he replied. "I'll be wearing the green shirt, not a blue shirt. I've got to know Ashley quite well at club level, he's a great lad but he's a winner as well.

"Once I've got that green shirt on, that's all I care about."

Coleman feels that Williams will be in for a testing evening if Long is in full flight.

"I think Shane Long can cause any centre-half in the world problems," he said.

"Someone with that speed and that leap is dangerous for anyone. He's capable of causing anyone problems."

The battle between Long and Williams should be one physical aspect of a fixture that should be lively.

That brings risks given that Ireland have four important players - Coleman, Glenn Whelan, Stephen Ward and Jonathan Walters - one yellow card away from missing June's date with Austria.

Suspension ruled Robbie Brady out of tonight's match and O'Neill hopes that experienced referee Nicola Rizzoli lives up to his reputation.

Rizzoli was in charge for Ireland's exit from the Euros at the hands of France where he had no option but to send off Shane Duffy.

"I don't see us having any discipline issues other than Robbie throwing the ball away (in Austria) which was daft really," said O'Neill.

"Referees these days put out yellow cards like they've got something in their pocket so they might as well show it. Players are getting booked rather easily.

"I think what you're looking for is some sort of common-sense approach to the game.

"Some referees decide to want to show their authority very early on and then get themselves in tricky situations later on in the match.

"The referee for this game is very capable and I'm sure he will deal with situations as he sees fit."

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Irish Independent

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