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Ireland’s O’Neill hopes injured Coleman can follow Larsson example


Dublin (AFP) – Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill hopes injured captain Seamus Coleman will be able to follow the example of former Celtic star Henrik Larsson in recovering fully from a broken leg.

Coleman, 28, was still in a Dublin hospital on Monday, two days after he had surgery on the tibia and fibula bones in his right leg which were snapped by an appalling tackle from Wales’s Neil Taylor, who was promptly sent off in a goalless World Cup qualifying draw at Lansdowne Road.

O’Neill, speaking about Coleman at his pre-match news conference ahead of Tuesday’s friendly international with Iceland, said: “I think he’s just beginning to come to terms with it.

“I saw him yesterday and he’s still pretty down about it. He’s not in as much pain, the operation went very well and it’s just a matter of coming to terms with it.”

The extent of Coleman’s injury was so great that match broadcasters took the decision not to show replays of Taylor’s tackle and its aftermath during the fixture, although images were widely seen on social media.

O’Neill admitted to having mixed emotions as he dealt with the initial fall-out of seeing Coleman taken off the field.

“The first reaction is that you know you have lost a great player for a start, and you know the sort of pain that he’s going to be going through, obviously the immediate pain and then his recovery,” he said.

“It’s a major blow, not only for the player, but obviously for his family, people who were at the game watching that,” the former Northern Ireland international added.

“But as Seamus mentioned to me the other day, he just said that it has happened now, he can’t do anything about it and it’s what he does now in the next few months that is very, very important.”

O’Neill, however, urged Coleman to take heart from the example of Larsson, whom he saw make a full recovery while manager of Glasgow giants Celtic.

“Before I went to Celtic, about five or six months before that, Henrik Larsson had a very serious injury and he recovered magnificently and the injury didn’t bother him again from then until the end of his career, so players have recovered,” O’Neill said.

“Great players have broken their legs and come back, and Seamus, obviously it’s very early for him to start considering all those things, but he is positive.

“Naturally, as I mentioned earlier at the start, he’s down, as he would be as the realisation that he is going to be out of action for quite some considerable time has dawned on him, so those type of things don’t just take five minutes to get over.

“But he’s very strong, he’s got a lot of good people around him, his family is very, very strong as well and he is positive that he will be back and as good as ever.”

Coleman was injure soon after fellow defender John O’Shea was on the receiving end of a wild challenge from Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, with many observers feeling the Wales star was fortunate to only receive a yellow card rather than the red shown Taylor.

“I thought both challenges when I have seen them back have been very, very poor,” said O’Neill. Very poor indeed.”

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