Everton defender Coleman sets World Cup target

Joe Williams

Seamus Coleman has his sights set firmly on a trip to the World Cup finals in Russia after sampling the atmosphere at a major tournament for the first time.

The 27-year-old Everton full-back ended Euro 2016 as Republic of Ireland captain, a position he has retained for the new qualifying campaign, which continues with Thursday night Group D clash with Georgia at the Aviva Stadium.

Coleman will win his 40th senior cap against the Georgians, but insists his international education is ongoing.

He said: “To play 40 games for Ireland is a great honour. I didn’t know, but hopefully I can finish it with a win.

“You are always trying to improve yourself. To get to the tournament was a big achievement for us all and we all learned a lot from it. Playing under different managers as well has improved me in different ways.

“But you always want to do better. You never think that you’re the finished article and I just want to keep improving and keep learning and try to get to this World Cup.”

Ireland are currently ranked 31 by FIFA after their exploits in France, while Georgia, who are yet to figure at a major tournament, sit in 137th place in the table.

However, having beaten them 2-1 in Tbilisi with a late Aiden McGeady strike and 1-0 in Dublin thanks to Jonathan Walters’ effort during the last campaign, they will take nothing for granted.

Coleman said: “We know a lot about them from the last campaign. We needed a little bit of magic from Aiden McGeady out there, and at home as well it took us until late until Jonny got his goal.

“They beat Spain not so long ago in a friendly match and they have run Germany close, Austria close, so it’s a tough game.

“It’s not going to be a walk-over by any means and we are going to have to all be on our game to get a result tomorrow night.”

Ireland launched their qualification bid with a hard-fought 2-2 draw in Serbia last month, Coleman’s first appearance of the season for either club or country because of an ankle injury.

He said: “As a player, you just want to play. The club wants you fit, the country wants you fit, but at the end of the day as a player – and I can only speak for myself – if I am fit and I am not feeling any niggles, no problems, no concerns, then I’ll play whether that’s for Ireland or Everton.

“There are no complications or big dramas about it. If I’m fit, I’ll play and that’s the way it should be.”