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'Hopefully Seamus looks at what people like me did and realises there's a way back from this'

Former Ireland striker Niall Quinn is upbeat that the current captain can return for next year’s World Cup finals — provided the team qualifies.

Quinn is a Sky Sports pundit.
Quinn is a Sky Sports pundit.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

NIALL QUINN IS in no doubt that Seamus Coleman can come back stronger than ever for Ireland.

The Killybegs full-back suffered a double leg-break in the recent 0-0 draw with Wales at the Aviva Stadium and both Ireland and Everton will have to plan without one of their most important players for several months at least.

And Quinn, who was capped 92 times for the Boys in Green, believes Coleman’s absence will be felt as he has stepped up as a leader since taking the captain’s armband.

“His presence in the team has been extraordinary,” said Sky Sports pundit Quinn. “He makes everybody feel great and feel that Ireland have a chance in games because he plays like fans want to see the best players play.

“He plays as if the game is the most important thing in the world to him and he leads by example. He’s courageous, he does the media well and he does absolutely everything exemplary.

“I know we had Robbie Keane for years, but he has filled that mantle as our biggest star already. He brings the gift of courage to everybody around him and I think he’ll be really sorely missed.

We’re in a lovely position (in the group) and you couldn’t have asked for better at the halfway point.

“But he will be missed sorely and it makes Martin’s job more difficult. You can’t but suffer if you’re best player is missing. He is for us almost what (Gareth) Bale is for Wales, in a different way of thinking.

“I know we talk about flair and we’ve got a couple of players — Wes (Hoolahan) and Robbie Brady — and I understand that, but in terms of backbone, heart and the courage of the team, he’s a huge loss.

“That’s why everybody was gutted for the lad the other night. I’ve never ever felt an atmosphere in a stadium so depressing in an Ireland situation where we haven’t lost the game. It was dreadful and everybody knows why — because our star man has suffered this horrible injury.”

Seamus Coleman is carried off the field Coleman will need several months, at least, to recover. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Coleman’s surgery was deemed a success but the 28-year-old has countless hours of rehabilitation ahead before he will get near the training ground again.

Quinn returned from two separate cruciate ligament operations in his playing days and says he is optimistic that the defender can make a full recovery.

“I did two cruciates, I was written off after each one but I had my best five years after that,” he added.

“So I would have no concerns about Seamus. I was much later in my career when I did my second one and I was told then that I was finished, but that wasn’t true and hopefully Seamus looks at what people like me did and realises there is a way back from this.

My surgeon told me at the time that a third of the recovery from a big injury is down to the operation, another third is the recovery in the gym and the final third is in the head.

“Seamus will have to go into that first challenge, get it out of the way. It takes a few games to convince yourself that you are back, but it will happen. The all-important third part, what goes on inside your head, is strong for Seamus and I’m sure this will stand him in good stead.”

Ireland sit level with Serbia at the top of Group D with five matches played from 10, meaning they are right in the mix for qualification to next year’s World Cup finals in Russia.

That gives Coleman an added incentive to work his way back in time to potentially lead his country out at another major tournament.

“What a lovely target that is for him,” says Quinn. “I got injured the week after we qualified for the 1994 World Cup and that dream of getting back to fitness in time to go to America kept me going in the days when I was working in the gym.

“In the end, I ran out of time and didn’t quite make it, but Seamus has a few more months on his side and I am convinced he will be back to his best if we can make it through to Russia next year.

“Serbia, Austria and Wales will all have a lot to say on whether we get to the World Cup, but Seamus has to believe he will be there and I hope the team are motivated to try and bring him there. It will be a fairy-tale ending to a really horrible story.”

Sky Sports is the best place to see the Premier League run in with the biggest head to heads from both ends of the table. In April, Sky Sports will show Manchester United v Chelsea and the last North London Derby between Tottenham and Arsenal at White Hart Lane.

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Ben Blake

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