Saturday 24 August 2019

Sidibe arrival poses fresh threat for Irish captain Coleman

Coleman: Facing a fight for his place. Photo: Oli Scarff
Coleman: Facing a fight for his place. Photo: Oli Scarff
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Seamus Coleman will today get an early indication of where he stands in Marco Silva's plans for the forthcoming season.

The Ireland captain has been put under pressure by the arrival of French international Djibril Sidibe, a loan capture from Monaco.

He has joined the Goodison Park club for the season, but the Toffees have the option of making the deal permanent thereafter.

Sidibe is an attack-minded 27-year-old who was called into France's World Cup-winning squad last year. He starred against Ireland in a Paris friendly prior to the tournament.

Coleman came through a sticky patch last season to finish the season as Silva's first-choice right-back again. The Donegal man is one of the candidates to become the club's new captain following the departure of Phil Jagielka.

However, on the eve of today's Premier League kick-off away to Crystal Palace, Silva declined to confirm who would wear the armband.

He suggested that would become clear over the next week, confirming that the candidates are the players who deputised when Jagielka missed out during last season - Leighton Baines, Coleman, Gylfi Sigurdsson and youngster Tom Davies all wore the armband at various stages last term.

"I will not say the name to you now," said Silva. "There will be no big difference to last season.

"We had Jags, Leighton, Coleman and sometimes Gylfi and Tom. It will be within these names. Of course you will know next week better."

Baines is a doubt for the match with an injury.

Silva hailed Sidibe's arrival because it would give him two strong players in one position, therefore apparently ruling out a formation shift that might work for both Coleman and the Frenchman.

"Djibril has fantastic experience, winning titles and playing many matches in a competitive league," he said.

"He is a World Cup winner and he has the hunger to achieve much more in his career.

"It is important to have different options in each position and with Djibril and Seamus we now have two high-quality right-backs."

Coleman was temporarily unshipped last year by Jonjoe Kenny, who is spending this season on loan in Germany with Schalke.

His New Year's Day dropping was the consequence of a loss of form in the preceding weeks and a first sustained period of criticism from supporters who had consistently lauded him across his decade in England.

Ireland manager Mick McCarthy will be monitoring the situation with interest. He has spoken of his concerns over key men arriving for the September double-header without any competitive minutes under their belt.

McCarthy has made it clear that he prefers Coleman to Wolves star Matt Doherty at right-back. But he could be forced into a rethink if Silva prefers Sidibe from the outset.

That said, the new recruit does have a dubious injury record that has curtailed his progress. He missed a chunk of last season, but did finish the campaign strongly.

Sidibe was a star of the Monaco side that claimed the French title in 2016/'17 and charged to the semi-finals of the Champions League before the team was raided by the bigger fish across Europe.

Throughout his time on Merseyside, Coleman has consistently risen to the challenge to beat off challenge for the right-back.

But the newcomer provides the most serious threat to his standing.

Irish Independent

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