Ireland's skipper fielding questions today.
Leading by example

'It's so important for us to show the new lads what's expected when we put on the jersey to play for our country'

Ireland captain Seamus Coleman is eager to get back out on the pitch in Monday night’s summer friendly with the French.

Ben Blake reports from Paris

HOW GOOD IT is to have Seamus Coleman back as Ireland captain.

The Donegal native missed a total of 10 international matches — including the two-legged World Cup play-off with Denmark — due to the horrific leg break suffered against Wales in Dublin 14 months ago.

However, Coleman made a welcome return in March when he played 63 minutes in the friendly defeat to Turkey.

A man who has always led by example through his actions on the pitch, the 29-year-old has been enjoying the current camp and says he is eager to begin a new chapter for Irish football after the heartbreak of failing to qualify for this year’s tournament in Russia.

“Obviously, the disappointment has grown a little bit more again recently with all the excitement of the World Cup and we’re disappointed not to be there,” Coleman said in Paris ahead of their fixture with France tomorrow.

“But since that night against Denmark, once we let that settle down, we needed to get prepared for the next campaign and that’s what we’re starting to do.

But it’s a good thing that we’re disappointed not making these tournaments now. Especially under this manager, we have become very competitive.

“We had a great time at the Euros, we were unlucky not to qualify [for the World Cup] and to be disappointed shows that we want to be at these tournaments. That’s the level we are at now, we will be disappointed unless we quality.”

Seamus Coleman Coleman in possession at the Stade de France earlier. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

There are a couple of new faces on this trip and several others who are yet to become established international footballers. For someone like Coleman, who made his Ireland debut way back in 2011, it is key to instil the same high standards they have set for the team into the recent arrivals.

“It definitely feels like there’s been a bit of a change with the new players coming in,” he added. “We still have some from the last campaign and it’s so important for us to show those new lads coming in what’s expected on the training pitch, when we put on the jersey to play for our country, and even what’s expected around the hotel, and they have been great.

“It’s up to them to step up and show they deserve to be at this level, and I’m sure they will. There’s definitely a bit of a change, but the objective stays the same — We want to win every game possible and qualify.”

Seamus Coleman At Dalymount Park last Friday night. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Coleman, along with manager Martin O’Neill, his coaching staff and a group of the Ireland players, attended the 1-1 draw between Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers last Friday.

Graham Burke and Shane Supple were both involved before they jetted off to Paris with the squad, but the quality of football on show was poor on the night. That said, the former Sligo Rovers defender believes recognition for domestically-based players is a real positive.

“It’s great, and there are more and more cases of it happening now as well,” he says of the League of Ireland call-ups.

If you’re performing to the best of your ability in the league and the manager and Roy [Keane] are going to watch, then if you catch their eye, you know that there’s a chance that you’ll get called up and given a chance to prove yourself.

“We were at he game on Friday night – I wouldn’t say it was the best game of football that we’ve been at recently, I was hoping for a bit more.

“But the league on the whole has been improving at a very good rate, Dundalk and Cork are showing that, and the manager has shown if you’re good enough and you’re playing well, he will give you a chance.”

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