Seamus Coleman back ... and Jon Walters going nowhere as he bids to play at Euro 2020
361 days after the horror of his leg break, Seamus Coleman was back on Ireland duty yesterday.
The Ireland captain was back training with Martin O'Neill's squad in Turkey ahead of Friday's friendly with the manager confirming that Jon Walters - the other major absentee from the World Cup playoff loss to Denmark - is planning to return to international football later this year
The 34-year-old Burnley striker is currently on the sidelines recuperating from a knee injury. He was unavailable for the World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark, and veteran colleagues Wes Hoolahan and Daryl Murphy opted to step away afterwards.
John O'Shea and Glenn Whelan are also expected to bring down the curtain on their Irish careers.
However, he met with O'Neill recently and the player indicated he wanted to prolong his Irish journey, fitness permitting.
"I think Jon would like to continue depending on how things go in the next couple of months," said O'Neill. "I have spoken to him and he is obviously waiting to get over his injury. I think that he is improving.
"I think Jon will still want to play when he is 64. So that will be up to him. He is not one to retire. He was very, very positive a couple of months ago and I met him down in London when he came down to a check up on how his injury was going.
"He's still pretty keen so hopefully that keenness will improve as his injury improves."
O'Neill suggested that he will keep the door open for Walters. By contrast, he has not spoken to Whelan, and it was always anticipated he might be phased out because of midfield competition.
A summer farewell for O’Shea around the friendly with USA is a strong possibility.
Ireland remain light in the forward department, and that’s why Walters has a role to play in the rebuilding job towards Euro 2020.
“I think that he can still bring value to the squad because at this minute we have got Shane Long and we have got the two young lads (Sean Maguire and Scott Hogan) now trying to impress which is great,” said the Derryman, speaking after Ireland’s first training session in Belek leading up to Friday’s friendly with Turkey.
“If he wants to do it, I also think he would be a great influence as well, a bit like John O’Shea was. Jon has always felt part of it, particularly during my time here when he has been terrific.”
Walters did come in to help the group prepare for the Denmark game along with Seamus Coleman.
“I think he has earned that right as well,” O’Neill continued.
“His performances in getting us to the Euros was fantastic and while he missed a lot of the tournament in France – which was a major disappointment to him – he has been terrific.
“The team might change around, lads might come in and be absolutely brilliant and then there is no room for some of the senior boys.
“I don’t know but that (Walters) would be something nice to have.”