Off The Ball
Off The Ball

17.27 6 Jan 2016


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Never judge a player by how they fare for you in Fantasy football. Or at least try not to!

But I couldn't help but feel that a general stalwart in my Fantasy Premier League team, Seamus Coleman, might not be delivering as much as I hoped.

Half-way through the Premier League season and the Ireland attacking right-back has no goals and three assists for the season, in comparison to last season where he ended with a goals total of three and 2013-14 which left him with an impressive six.

Assists-wise though, at least, he is one away from equalling the total he attained for the previous two campaigns combined.

However, the number of chances Coleman creates per game has dropped from just shy of one per game in 2014-15 to just 12 in 17 this season.

Pure numbers can only tell you so much of course, and it would be interesting to see whether having an attack-minded winger like Gerard Deulofeu regularly in front of Coleman has made him curtail his own attacking threat this season.

Deulofeu is very much attack-first and that has paid dividends when it comes to his telepathic relationship with Romelu Lukaku.

The young Catalan has created six goals for his Belgian counterpart in 2015-16 so far, a stat only equalled by Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud's supply line at Arsenal.

Only twice has Coleman created two chances in a single game this season and one was their last outing against Tottenham, which found Deulofeu on the bench until the 60th minute, with Coleman not exactly cavalier until then with just a cross and a chance created.

Those first 60 minutes did see Coleman spend about 35 per cent of his on-field action along the right flank in the opposition half, whereas he did not go towards the byline at all during the final half hour, even if he spent more time in the Spurs half - just closer to the half-way line in a support role.

Deulofeu as the winger was of course much more advanced in that sense, firing in four crosses and spending more time around the right byline.

But at least Coleman can rest assured that his ticket is booked for Euro 2016, unless his form were to plummet to an unlikely and unrecognisable low between now and June.

 Darren Gibson Picture by: Mike Egerton / PA Archive/PA Images

Meanwhile, when we turn our attentions to the other members of Everton's Irish contingent, James McCarthy is still a short way away from action due to a groin injury.

You would expect him to come back into consideration for a first team place though given how manager Roberto Martinez appreciates him.

That's a different tale from Aiden McGeady, who needs a loan move with months to go in order to secure a squad place for Euro 2016. A return to hometown Celtic was ruled out as an option, which potentially leaves him having to drop down a division. 

Indeed, Ireland manager Martin O'Neill specifically mentioned McGeady when he spoke to Off The Ball about the need for more domestic game-time ahead of Euro 2016, saying: "Aiden McGeady was a massive part of early proceedings. And we owe an awful lot to Aiden McGeady. His goal against Georgia in Georgia was fantastic. His one that gave us all three points was massive for us at the time and I don't forget those particular things. But players do need time on the field because it is important for fitness and important for confidence and if you're doing well, the higher up you're playing in, obviously the more confident you're going to be coming into a tournament if you get picked." 

His competition for the Irish wide positions consists of an in-form Robbie Brady, a James McClean likely to travel and perhaps central midfielders and attackers like Jeff Hendrick and Jon Walters who could see game-time on the right or left side.

And as for another figure, Darron Gibson has become something of a forgotten man for club and country in recent seasons, with injury often curtailing his involvement.

He has not took to the field for Ireland since 2014 and has made just around half a dozen appearances in all competitions for Everton this season.

Martinez will allow the Derry man, who made O'Neill's squad for the Bosnia game, to move on for more game-time and a chance to jump Ireland's midfield pecking order which sees McCarthy, Glenn Whelan, Harry Arter, Wes Hoolahan and Hendrick ahead of him. 

There is more poignancy for Gibson in comparison to McGeady given how particularly difficult Euro 2012 was for him.

Giovanni Trapattoni brought him to Poland but he did not see a minute of action during Ireland's three defeats, with the former Manchester United midfielder later commenting of his belief that the former Boys in Green boss had "some sort of problem" with him.

But the immediate problem now, like McGeady, is to try and join Coleman and McCarthy as a definite on the plane to France this summer.


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