Martin O’Neill - the Republic of Ireland manager - insists he sees Seamus Coleman as a right-back and will resist playing him in a more advanced role.
Killyebgs native Coleman has shown his offensive prowess this season at Everton with seven goals in all competitions and at O’Neill’s announcement of a 32-man squad for Ireland’s end of season friendlies, it was queried if Coleman would be better served playing on the right of midfield.
“Seamus Coleman is very, very comfortable playing right back where he can get forward,” O’Neill said of the 25-year-old. “He’s been given license, under David Moyes he was getting forward, but if Roberto Martinez has allowed him carte blanche to do it this year. Great.
“I’m sure if I asked him he could play right wing, but he would be more comfortable playing at the back. He mentioned how he wanted to improve part of his game last time we played.
“Could Seamus Coleman cope starting at outside right for his country? At a push I would think he could.
“If I asked Seamus to do it, he would go and do it, but for him to be comfortable doing it and the way he’s expanding his game from full-back, at the moment, I’d say he would rather play in that position.”
Ireland start their end of season series with the Three International friendly against Turkey on May 25, followed by Italy in Craven Cottage, London, on May 31, Costa Rica in PPL Stadium, Philadelphia on June 6 and Portugal in Metlife Stadium, New Jersey, on June 10.
When assessing Coleman’s positional prowess, O’Neill, who played in the World Cup finals for Northern Ireland in 1982 and 1986, made reference to his own career, when he played on both the right of midfield and in the centre.
“But there is an essential difference in starting right back; knowing you can go forward, but deep down you know your job is defensive,” he continued. “And when you’re absolutely wide you can check back and none of the crowd are expecting you to do anything other than play it back.
“I know this because I played wide right for years at Nottingham Forest. The expectation when you have the ball is that, if you’re the winger, it’s a totally different expectation to being a full-back.
“No matter how good you are, someone, one day is going to ask questions of you, but his whole game has improved.”
Coleman’s Everton teammate Shane Duffy, a Derry native whose father Brian is from Letterkenny, is also part of the squad. The central defender, who is 23, spent the season on loan at Yeovil Town in the SkyBet Championship and is looking to win a first senior cap.
“He is still very young,” O’Neill said. “I have watched him myself and have had people watch him different times, he had one good game and one not so good game.
“It is something fresh to add to the team, however. I can understand the loan move, he was not getting into the team at Everton, so why not go on loan? Time will tell how good he will be.”