Dou­ble joy for re­cov­er­ing Cole­man

£60,000-a-week deal for Ever­ton star as he ac­cepts in­vite to join Ir­ish squad ahead of Aus­tria qual­i­fier

Irish Independent - - SPORT - Daniel McDon­nell

SEA­MUS Cole­man has said yes to an in­vi­ta­tion from Martin O’Neill to join the Ire­land squad ahead of June’s World Cup qual­i­fier with Aus­tria.

And a morale-boost­ing week for the Ire­land skip­per has been capped by Ever­ton’s de­ci­sion to hon­our the of­fer of a new five-year con­tract.

Cole­man (right) had agreed the terms be­fore he broke his leg in March’s World Cup qual­i­fier and it’s ex­pected that his new weekly wage will ex­ceed £60,000.

He put pen to pa­per yes­ter­day and re­vealed that Ever­ton chair­man Bill Ken­wright texted him on the night of his in­jury to say ‘Don’t worry about it be­cause when you come back this con­tract is still wait­ing for you.’

As it hap­pens, Ever­ton will not ac­tu­ally have to pay Cole­man’s wages as he re­cu­per­ates from a set­back sus­tained on in­ter­na­tional duty.

Un­der the terms of FIFA’s Club Pro­tec­tion pro­gramme, world foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body cover salary pay­ments un­til the right-back re­turns to full fit­ness as the set­back hap­pened on their watch.

Cole­man is set to miss the rest of Ire­land’s at­tempt to make next sum­mer’s fi­nals in Rus­sia on ac­count of his dou­ble frac­ture, but O’Neill still feels the pop­u­lar fig­ure can play a part by com­ing in be­fore the Aus­trian en­counter on June 11 to lend his pres­ence to prepa­ra­tions.

O’Neill vis­ited the player at his home in Killy­begs as he came to terms with the long lay-off and says he will leave the length of the stay in the Ir­ish camp up to the Done­gal man.

“He is com­ing and he wants to be here,” said O’Neill yes­ter­day. “He cer­tainly wants to be here for the big game com­ing up, ab­so­lutely.

“Sea­mus has made some things hap­pen for us. He got the goal against Ge­or­gia, he’s a big, big player for us, he’s the cap­tain of the team and we would want him around. He was the one that was en­cour­ag­ing that him­self.

“That (length of stay) will be en­tirely up to his pro­gramme. I don’t want to take away from what he is do­ing with Ever­ton be­cause he is in their hands at this minute but he will be here for the Aus­tria game, and maybe a day or two be­fore. The lads would love to see him.”

O’Neill of­fered a brief up­date on James McCarthy, who has not played for Ever­ton since the furore over his at­tempts to play in the Welsh en­counter. “Funny enough I have left him alone for a cou­ple of weeks but he was mak­ing some sort of progress,” said O’Neill.

He is “hope­ful” that the Glaswe­gian will be avail­able for sum­mer du­ties, which con­sist of friendlies against Mex­ico (June 1 in New York) and Uruguay (June 4 in Dublin) be­fore the Aus­trian en­counter.

The Ir­ish man­ager has con­firmed that he will hold a small train­ing camp in Fota Is­land in Cork from May 23-25 to boost the fit­ness of the Cham­pi­onship mem­bers of his squad whose reg­u­lar sea­son fin­ishes to­mor­row.

That con­tin­gent will also form the bulk of the side for the Mex­ico and Uruguay games, with tun­ing up their fit­ness again the pri­or­ity head­ing into those fix­tures.

One player who should be present is Brighton de­fender Shane Duffy, who sat out the fi­nal part of his club’s suc­cess­ful pro­mo­tion charge with the bro­ken metatarsal that ru­ined him out of the Welsh draw.

O’Neill is an ad­mirer of the 25-year-old and still feels there is more to come from a player who has pro­gressed dur­ing his ten­ure.

“I think it’s re­ally great for him to get into the Premier League,” said O’Neill.

“I like him a lot. I think there is a lot of im­prove­ment still in him. When I took this job, I re­mem­ber see­ing him on loan from Ever­ton to Yeovil. And it wouldn’t have been the best time in the world for him.

“Any­thing straight­for­ward, head­ing it and that, he was very strong. But he needed to turn more quickly.

“Then I thought that I once went to see a game be­tween Scun­thorpe and Don­caster when I was man­ager of Wy­combe. And there was a cen­tre-half play­ing for Scun­thorpe who on the day was use­less, called Matty El­liott. And I ended up buy­ing him, though not from Scun­thorpe, and Matty ended up be­ing sen­sa­tional at Le­ices­ter.

“Shane had at­tributes: he was strong in the air, he was com­fort­able with the ball at his feet, which is ex­actly what Matty El­liott had. I saw some things in him so you keep an eye on him any­way.

“But the most im­por­tant thing any­way was to ac­tu­ally get out and play more reg­u­larly, which hap­pened at Black­burn and then Brighton which was great.

“Over­all I’ve been very im­pressed with him. He just needs more aware­ness, which he knows him­self – like the goal against Moldova where both he and Ciaran Clark got caught out.

“I’m not say­ing Shane is ever go­ing to be Usain Bolt or any­thing like that, but you can im­prove your speed and those are the things he’s try­ing to do, and his at­ti­tude for when he comes into the camp is very good.”

O’Neill, who was speak­ing at the launch of the Sport­sDirect. com FAI Sum­mer Soc­cer Schools, did touch on his prob­lems at the other end of the pitch, with a short­age of upand-com­ing strik­ers.

He praised Cil­lian Sheri­dan for his goalscor­ing form in Poland and also spoke in pos­i­tive terms about in-form Cork City striker Sean Maguire, but he also stressed that he wants play­ers to earn call-ups rather than throwing around caps too freely.

“We had the op­por­tu­nity to play some play­ers who have been in and around the squad but haven’t re­ally par­tic­i­pated that much, after the Wales game,” he said, with a nod to the 1-0 friendly re­verse to Ice­land where sev­eral debu­tants fea­tured.

“I’m not so sure that it (sum­mer friendlies) is an ideal time for try­ing out very young play­ers who have never been in­volved in the squad, for the sim­ple rea­son that it’s a lead-up to the World Cup qual­i­fy­ing game, which is most im­por­tant.”

Mean­while, the 65-year-old laughed off spec­u­la­tion link­ing No 2 Roy Keane with a move to Aus­tralian team Mel­bourne City.

“Per­son­ally the sooner he goes the bet­ter,” said O’Neill, with a smile. “Aus­tralia? I would want it a wee bit fur­ther.

“No, hon­estly, I didn’t know any­thing about it. I was speak­ing to him last night for a mo­ment or two and he would have men­tioned it to me.”

Duffy: Praise from O’Neill

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