Football | Seamus Coleman ruled out of Euro 2020 play-off

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy has confirmed that Seamus Coleman will miss the upcoming Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia.

The Ireland captain hobbled off with a thigh injury in the 28th minute of Everton’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United in the Premier League last weekend, and won’t be available for the trip to Bratislava on March 26th.

Coleman, 31, has already missed 10 league matches for the Toffees this season, and is now likely to miss four to six weeks according to McCarthy.

“I think Seamus is struggling for the games,” McCarthy told RTÉ’s Tony O’Donoghue.

“He’s got a thigh strain, a strain or a tear. I’m told it could be four to six weeks. That will put him out if that’s the case.”

Coleman’s absence opens the door for the in-form Matt Doherty to retain his place in the team for the play-off.

Wolves defender Doherty, who is Ireland’s top scorer in both the Premier League and European competitions this season, scored in November’s 1-1 draw with Denmark at the Aviva Stadium, with Coleman ruled out due to suspension.

It was the quintessential Doherty goal; the Wolves right back arriving at the back post to head home Enda Stevens’ deep cross.  

Doherty scored a goal and set up another in Wolves’ 3-2 win over Spurs last weekend, and also found the net in the English club’s Europa League defeat to Espanyol in Spain.
Since the start of last season, he has scored eight Premier League goals, a tally matched only be reigning PFA Player of the Year Virgil van Dijk.

Add in his five assists, and only Liverpool full backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson have been involved in more goals over the same period.

The 28-year-old has scored 15 goals in all competitions in that period, and with four league goals already this campaign, has scored more than any other Irish player in the English top flight this season.

“Matt Doherty is doing great,” McCarthy said.

“I was at Fulham at the weekend and Cyrus Christie came on and was excellent. But the Doc’s great. He’s doing really well.”

The Ireland manager, who will be replaced by Stephen Kenny later this year, also heaped praise on Southampton strikers Michael Obafemi and Shane Long.

“Our players are scoring at just the right time as we get closer to Slovakia. Michael will be delighted to have scored after getting the nod to start up front with Shane (in the Saints’ 3-1 defeat to West Ham) and Matt is getting plenty of chances at Wolves and taking them.

“I don’t care who gets the goals in Slovakia so long as we get goals and there are plenty of Irish players enjoying the goalscoring habit now which I’m sure everyone who wants that play-off win is delighted with, me included.”

Fears over the coronavirus could result in the play-off at Tehelné pole Stadium being played behind closed doors, UEFA have confirmed.

“It will be case-by-case and it will be a last-minute decision very close to the date of the matches,” UEFA’s General Secretary Theodore Theodoridis said.

The draw for the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League was also made today, with Ireland being drawn in Group 4 of League B alongside Bulgaria, Finland and Wales.