Ireland lament 'big loss' as Coleman has surgery on broken leg

Republic of Ireland defender Seamus Coleman is stretchered off the pitch during the World Cup qualfier against Wales in Dublin on March 24, 2017

Republic of Ireland captain Seamus Coleman had surgery on his broken leg Saturday following a horror tackle by Wales's Neil Taylor in Friday's goalless World Cup qualifying draw in Dublin.

Taylor was sent off in the 71st minute at Lansdowne Road, with Everton full-back Coleman taken off on a stretcher after his right foot was left dangling by an ugly foul.

A Football Association of Ireland statement released Saturday said that Coleman had fractured the fibula and tibia bones in his right leg following a challenge that effectively ended his season for both club and country.

"Seamus suffered a serious leg injury and has undergone surgery," said Republic manager Martin O'Neill. "He has had an exceptional season with both club and country, and he will be a big loss.

"But Seamus is so mentally strong that when he has fully recovered he will be as brilliant as before," former Leicester and Celtic manager O'Neill insisted.

Taylor was said to be "in bits" over his challenge, according to Wales team-mate Joe Allen.

Aston Villa's Taylor was himself sidelined for eight months after breaking his ankle in 2012 and Allen added after Friday's match: "Tayls is one of my best mates and he's a great guy. He's really disappointed that one of his tackles has ended up getting someone hurt.

"But 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 and I think everyone is disappointed, and from Seamus' point of view it doesn't look great."

- Ledley slams 'laugh' claim -

Meanwhile Wales midfielder Joe Ledley dismissed suggestions he laughed at Coleman's injury.

During the course of lengthy on-field treatment, Coleman was given oxygen and it was at this point that Ledley was shown on television coverage.

A Twitter user then posted a screen grab where he questioned if Crystal Palace's Ledley was grinning, leading others on social media to accuse him of laughing.

It was, however, possible to interpret Ledley's response as grimacing in dismay at the extent of Coleman's injury.

Ledley, who broke his leg just before the start of last year's European Championship finals -- a tournament where Wales reached the last four -- tweeted that anyone who thought he was laughing at Coleman "needs their heads testing".

"My thoughts are with Seamus Coleman & I wish him a speedy road to recovery," he added.

Friday's result kept Ireland four points clear of Wales and level on points with new Group D leaders Serbia, who beat Georgia 3-1.

Ireland's next World Cup qualifier is at home to Austria on June 11, with only the group winners guaranteed a place at Russia 2018.

The FAI statement said Coleman's condition "will be monitored over the coming days", adding that John O'Shea, James McCarthy, Glenn Whelan and Jonathan Walters had all been released back to their respective clubs ahead of Tuesday's home friendly against Iceland.