Seamus Coleman gave Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni a welcome boost when he returned to the Everton first team today.
Ireland face two make-or-break qualifiers next month, away to Sweden in Stockholm on March 22 and then against Austria in Dublin four days later.
The Killybegs native had been an absentee since limping off against Southampton at St Mary’s last month with a thigh strain and had been sidelined since, missing Ireland’s 2-0 win over Poland at the Aviva.
However, the 24-year-old was back for Everton’s 2-1 loss at the hands of Norwich City in the Premier League. Grant Holt’s injury-time strike earned Norwich a first Premier League win in 10 games as they scored twice in the final six minutes to win.
Canaries substitute Kei Kamara’s towering late header seemed to have rescued a point for the Canaries before Holt grabbed an unlikely winner when he stabbed the ball in from close range four minutes into added time.
Everton had deservedly led through Leon Osman’s close-range header before their late capitulation.
The loss means Everton remain in sixth place in the Barclay’s Premier League.