Thursday 17 October 2019

'Maybe he felt like he had to say that' - Seamus Coleman pours praise on Ireland new-boy Luca Connell

Luca Connell, right, and Seamus Coleman during training in Portugal
Luca Connell, right, and Seamus Coleman during training in Portugal
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Seamus Coleman has given a glowing endorsement to Ireland new-boy Luca Connell, as the Bolton teenager continues to impress following his first senior international call-up.

Everton fan Connell caught the eye as he trained with the Ireland squad for the first time at The Campus, Quinta do Lago on Tuesday, before he then admitted he was in awe of Coleman after meeting one of his heroes for the first time after Mick McCarthy called him up to his squad.

Connell may have been star-struck as he came face to face with Coleman, yet the idol he can now call a team-mate shrugged off those compliments as he gave his verdict on the 18-year-old in an interview with Sky Sports.

"Maybe he felt like he had to say that," said Coleman with a smile, as he was asked about Connell's compliments towards him.

"Luca has been great. He came in the first day and is a very nice young lad. To see a lad like that around the hotel was very refreshing, he has very good manners. Then he got out on the pitch yesterday and really showed us why he is here. It is a pleasure to have him and fingers crossed he keeps his head down and have a good future."

Coleman went on to suggest Ireland's improved performance in the 1-0 win against Georgia in March provided a blueprint for how the team should play in upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Denmark and Gibraltar.

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"The Georgia game showed what we can do," stated Coleman. "We need to get at them, be in their faces from the start and not allow their quality players to play. That is easier said than done, but we have a great group of lads and we are full of belief. This will be a very big game for us.

"Our full focus is going to be on the first game against Denmark. We have got a bit of history with them. They are a very good team, with some very good players, but we fully believe we can go there and get a result."

Coleman also reflected on his season with Everton, as he hinted regrets overrode optimism despite a positive end to the season that included strong performances against the Premier League's top six sides.

"We look back with a little bit of disappointment," he added. "I know we finished the season strong, but Everton need to be challenging higher up. The big one was going out of the FA Cup at Millwall, that hurt us.

"Going forward, we can take positives from how we finished and should realise we are capable of beating the big teams. Now we need to do it when it matters and not when the pressure is off us."

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