The Everton right back continues to think about all that could have been in the year or so that he was out following a terrible challenge from Wales’ Neil Taylor left him with a broken tibia and fibula on the pitch.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, the captain of the Irish squad talks about the guilt he feels from missing all the critical games that he did.
“There was a massive sense of guilt. Throughout my whole injury that the Denmark second leg (a 5-1 loss) was the hardest night because I was so gutted and felt a fully-fit me could have made a difference.
“It was heartbreaking to see James McClean afterwards, he was in bits. I know that’s not the way I should feel but I did. I felt guilty when Ronald Koeman lost his job, believing I could have helped had I been around. Nowadays, to players, managers are just come and go but I don’t like seeing people losing their jobs.
“Ronald Koeman did a lot for my career and showed great commitment by flying over to Donegal after I got the injury.”
The amount of negativity that surrounded his injury threatened to overwhelm the 28-year-old, but he fought through it all with his motivation.
“Soon after the injury, I was reading headlines about me never playing again, which was a load of nonsense.
“It was all fuel to the fire. You just want to prove people wrong and come back as good and as strong as ever.
“There’s never a good time for it to happen but I was feeling great at the time. I want to get back to where I was at and though I’m physically there, I still need to regain my sharpness. I had five or six chances for Everton during my games towards the end of the season that I should have did better with.
“The same happened last week for Ireland against the USA when I shanked a shot inside the box. I’ve no doubt that I’ll get there.”
Much has changed at Everton since the end of the season when Coleman left Finch Farm with Marcel Brands and Marco Silva coming in, but he’s going to try relax for a bit with a family holiday in Spain before returning to the Toffees on July 2nd.
“I’ve spoken to David Meyler about the new manager (Silva) whom he played under at Hull City and, by all accounts, he’s very good.
“We’ve got to go back and show our worth to him which I find tricky because it shouldn’t take a new manager to come in for you to make people step up their game.
“James McCarthy is making good progress on his broken leg. He probably prefers if people weren’t asking about it all the time but when I last spoke to him he was very happy with his recovery. We’ve badly missed him for both Everton and Ireland. It will be like having a new Ireland player when he returns.”
Coleman remains one of the leaders in the Everton squad, and a broad swathe of fans believe he should be the captain of the Blues next season. However, for now we will settle for having his consistency and stability in what could be a very different Toffees side after this summer.