Tuesday 12 December 2017

'Proud' Brady ready to step into the breach and answer Ireland's captaincy call

Brady: Ireland skipper. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Brady: Ireland skipper. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

As Martin O'Neill and Robbie Brady took their seats at the front of the room, the expressions on their faces suggested a deep sense of anger still lingered after Friday night's events.

When Brady leads Ireland out this evening, it should be an utterly proud moment but instead, it is offset by the fact that the country's captain still lies helpless in a hospital bed.

The likelihood is that Seamus Coleman will remain there for at least the next few days but it won't surprise anyone if the Everton defender has some words of advice for Brady, who will captain Ireland for the first time against Iceland.

That O'Neill has chosen Brady to skipper the side speaks volumes for how highly the Burnley man is regarded, and even though he might not be the automatic choice when Austria arrive in Dublin in June, he at least gets an opportunity to prove that he can lead the team as the manager ponders Coleman's replacement.

The 25-year-old knows all about seizing his moment in a green jersey. After all, it was predominantly in friendlies that he impressed before cementing his status as one of the first names on the team sheet.

Captaining teams is not something that Brady has done all that often in the past but it's a challenge that he is relishing.

"I have just captained at underage internationally, that's the last time I captained the side.

"Obviously it would be a dream come true for me. I'm looking forward to leading the lads out and hopefully putting on a good performance and get a good win," Brady explained.

There was no getting away from Coleman's horrific leg break during the 20-minute conversation with O'Neill and Brady, and it was telling that the Burnley man referenced his skipper as one who has already had a big impact on him since he took over the arm band on a permanent basis.

Coleman really thrived in the role during the Euros last summer and had picked up where he left off in this qualifying campaign.

Brady already has plenty of responsibilities within O'Neill's system, particularly set-pieces - an area that Ireland lacked in quality against Wales without him - and he admitted that he wasn't sure whether he would adopt the vocal approach or lead by example.

"I'm not sure what kind of captain I'll be - it's my first time captaining at senior level. I'll see how it goes," he said.

"But I've played under some great captains and I previously played under a great captain in Seamus Coleman. So I'll lead the team out the best I can.

"It has been disappointing, for our captain and the lad that Seamus is. It's always disappointing. We knew straight away when it happened. We are all there to help him as best we can through it."

With O'Neill set to hand several of the fringe players an opportunity to impress, that is certainly an area that Brady can relate to.

Since the Dublin native scored and set up another two goals on his debut against Oman five years ago, he has gone on to win another 30 caps, but his 32nd will surely rank among the most special, even if it has come about due to unfortunate circumstances.

Having been suspended for Friday's draw, Brady is itching to get back out at the Aviva this evening.

"It's always frustrating when you've got to watch on and you can't do anything to change the flow of the game," he added.

"But with the lads ready to come in, they put in a good shift and we got another point on the board.

"Friday night is behind us now. I was disappointed not to play but I am just happy to be back in contention.

"It is a big game in a lot of respects. I've enjoyed playing every single game for Ireland, including friendlies.

"It's a big opportunity for new lads coming in to stake a claim. I managed to impress in friendlies before I got a competitive start and hopefully anyone who gets a run-out manages to take their chance."

Irish Independent

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