Bale could have broken my leg, says O’Shea

Republic of Ireland’s defender John O’Shea (R) vies with Wales’ striker Hal Robson-Kanu during the World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Republic of Ireland and Wales at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 24, 2017. PHOTO: Paul FAITH / AFP

Republic of Ireland veteran John O’Shea believes he was fortunate to avoid a broken leg after being fouled by Gareth Bale during his side’s bruising World Cup qualifier against Wales.

Ireland captain Seamus Coleman sustained a sickening double leg break during Friday’s 0-0 draw in Dublin in an incident that saw Welsh wing-back Neil Taylor sent off.

Bale had earlier escaped with a yellow card after catching O’Shea high on the left leg as he slid in to attack Chris Gunter’s cross and the Sunderland defender revealed the injury had required stitches.

“I’ve had plenty of stitches put in there. I was lucky considering what has happened to Seamus,” O’Shea told reporters.

“On another night there could have been two red cards.

“I can’t remember how many stitches it was. The doctor had to stick some in deep and a few dissolvable ones on top. Hopefully it will heal quick.”

Having been booked, which rules him out of Wales’s trip to Serbia in June, Bale came perilously close to a second yellow card after catching James McClean with a high foot late in the game.

But manager Chris Coleman defended the Real Madrid star’s challenge on O’Shea.

“From where I was sitting, he had to go for the ball,” Coleman said.

“It’s a cross, he’s sprinting into the box, he’s got to try and attack the ball.”

O’Shea, 35, said the rivalry between Wales and Ireland, Celtic cousins separated by the Irish Sea, meant the game was always going to be a feisty one.

“You expect it, obviously within reason,” said the former Manchester United player.

“When you’re playing England, Scotland or Wales, the games are going to be like that. They are the games you want to be involved in and be a part of.”

He added: “As the opposition manager, you’re going to protect your own players.

“In a derby game you’re going to expect some tasty tackles, but as I said, within reason. There’s no problem getting a hard tackle, but if it’s late it’s a different story.”

Asked if Bale’s challenge had been late, O’Shea replied: “Maybe, but thankfully I’m walking away from it, which is no problem.”

The Football Association of Ireland revealed on Saturday that Seamus Coleman had undergone surgery after breaking the tibia and fibula in his right leg.

“Hopefully everything goes to plan and he comes back as strong as ever,” O’Shea said of the Everton right-back.

“With the type of player he is, he’ll recover quickly and be back on that pitch as soon as possible.”

Friday’s result left Ireland level on points with Group D leaders Serbia, four points above third-place Wales at the halfway point of the qualifying campaign.

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Gareth BaleJohn O'Shea
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