Republic ready to replace Staunton

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The Independent Football

Steve Staunton faces losing his Republic of Ireland job today when the Football Association of Ireland is expected to hold an emergency board meeting. Staunton's reign suffered a new low last Wednesday when his side drew 1-1 against Cyprus at Croke Park.

After the Euro 2008 qualifying match, the FAI chief John Delaney refused to give his public backing to the Republic manager. Now the former Leeds United and Aston Villa manager David O'Leary is the early bookmakers' favourite to take the expected vacancy.

O'Leary said at the weekend that he would not comment on the issue while Staunton was still in the job but the former Republic centre-back has previously made it clear that he would be keen on managing his country at some stage in the future.

With O'Leary currently not in charge of a club, the Dubliner may fit the bill for the FAI.

Roy Keane has appeared to rule out any prospect of succeeding Staunton after saying over the weekend that he had "enough on my plate" at Sunderland. "I'm enjoying the challenge here. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else," Keane said.

The FAI is refusing to comment but the BBC claims that the meeting to discuss Staunton's future will take place today.

In an RTE interview last Thursday, Delaney was repeatedly asked to back Staunton but the FAI chief executive refused to do so and in fact seemed to be trying to absolve himself of any blame for the original decision to appoint Staunton.

"It was very clear that three people were involved when Steve was appointed," he said. "It was a sub-committee of the FAI of three people who made the appointment of the management team.

"It's unfortunate that I've been personally linked to the appointment when it was a decision of a committee of 10.

"This is the third or fourth crisis around the management," he said.

"We had it after Cyprus, we had it after San Marino, we had it after Prague so people are getting conditioned to this form of crisis but I think that it's important board members get time to reflect on recent performances."

Staunton vowed to stay on in the post after last Wednesday evening's game but time now appears to be running out for the Dundalk man. The Republic are third in the Group D table but Germany and the Czech Republic have already qualified for the finals in Austria and Switzerland next summer, leaving Staunton's men with another clear summer.