Chris Coleman has said that Neil Taylor was left “devastated” and unable to speak in the dressing room as the full realisation dawned at the damage his reckless challenge had inflicted on Seamus Coleman.
Taylor himself lost almost a season of his career after breaking an ankle in 2012 and, while there will be little sympathy just now for all the character references that are being provided by his Wales team-mates, he was said to be “in bits” and made an immediate attempt to apologise.
“He’s numb; he didn’t say a word,” said Chris Coleman, the Wales manager. “I was the first one into the dressing room after the game and he was sitting on the floor with his head in his hands. But, no matter how badly he feels, or we feel, it’s worse for Seamus. We’ve just got to hope and pray that it’s not too bad for Seamus.”
Coleman had separately pointed out how the game had become heated following several heavy challenges from the Irish team and was steadfast in his wider support of Taylor.
“I defend Neil as a person; he’s a lovely lad. A gentleman,” he said. “I knew what type of game it was going to be. We knew it was going to be tough and physical. Our boys will stand up for themselves because you have to stand up for yourselves. Take the Seamus Coleman incident out of it and there was a bit of needle, but you’ve got to expect that. What you don’t expect is for anybody to come off with a serious injury. There are no complaints for me. Ireland did what they needed to do.”
Joe Allen has known Taylor for the past decade as a team-mate with both Swansea and Wales. “He’s in bits; he is one of my best mates,” said Allen. “Unfortunately in football these things can happen. There was no malice in the tackle and he certainly wouldn’t have intended to hurt anyone. I know him as well as anyone.”
The length of Taylor’s ban will be decided by a Uefa disciplinary committee but Wales will also now be without Gareth Bale for the pivotal trip to Serbia in June. They are now four points behind both the Republic of Ireland and Serbia in Group D.
“We’ve played everyone once now and there’s no team that really scare us in this group so we can take confidence from that,” said Allen. “We’re going to miss Gareth, but we’ve had games without important players before and we’ll just have to cope with it. Serbia will obviously be glad that he’s not playing but we certainly feel we’ve got enough to go out there and overcome that. We can take three points off everyone.”