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Seamus Coleman says Ireland have incentive to top group and deflects Frank Lampard’s glowing praise

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Seamus Coleman and James McClean training in Yerevan

Seamus Coleman and James McClean training in Yerevan

Seamus Coleman and James McClean training in Yerevan

SEAMUS Coleman believes the Republic of Ireland will show the fruits of their labour over the last year with a positive display away to Armenia in the first game of the new Nations League campaign.

The Everton man is in line to win his 65th cap in Yerevan tomorrow (kick-off 2pm Irish time) and while the Nations League as a whole has been a testing experience for the Republic, with no wins in 10 games, Coleman feels that positives from recent games, such as the draw at home to Belgium, will be evident with the incentive of trying to win not only games but the group.

"Without a shadow of a doubt it's an incentive," Coleman said of Stephen Kenny's stated ambition of winning the group.

"Tomorrow's game is the most important for us, to try to start off on a good note. We know it won't be easy but the last 12 months has been really good, the Serbia game, Portugal, Belgium, the team has grown with confidence.

"We're playing a style of football that people want to see, we are forever improving and the new lads coming in are eager to impress. We start off tomorrow hoping to get all three points, play well and go from there. You go into any campaign wanting to do the best that you can and that's what we will be doing," Coleman added.

The Donegal native also conceded that the season at club level, where Everton flirted with relegation before securing their Premier League status, was a trying time, but he deflected the praise sent his way by manager Frank Lampard.

"Listen, it was a tough season for us all, a lot of emotion went into it, all season, and I think a little bit of emotion carried through into that game. Regardless of who my manager is, it’s not changed for me," he said when asked about Lampard's words.

"I’ve not tried to impress one more than the other, I just want what’s best for the team, myself, the club, my team-mates, my manager. For a manager like Frank Lampard to say that is obviously a lovely moment, it means a lot.

"I don’t think a lot of people see or understand what goes on behind the scenes, and what you really put into it. From that point of view it’s nice of him to put it out there, nice for my parents and stuff like that. For me it’s part of my job and I’m happy the season ended like it did.

"It was a tough season for us all, parents, wife, kids. It was a tough grind. We got what we wanted in the end. Not exactly what we are describing as a successful season but when you get stuck in that rut with six weeks to go, we got what we wanted. As a club we need to learn massively from it, but I’m glad I am sitting here and still a Premier League player, for sure."

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