FAI confirm talks with Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane are at 'an advanced stage' ahead of expected management appointment
O'Neill has been favourite to take over the Republic of Ireland job since Giovanni Trapattoni was dismissed in September but Keane's appointment comes as a controversial one.
The Football Association of Ireland have confirmed that the process of appointing Martin O’Neill as their new manager and Roy Keane as assistant manager are at an advanced stage, with chief executive John Delaney labelling it as "job done".
O’Neill has been the favourite to take over the national job since the decision was made to sack Giovanni Trappattoni in September, with Under-21 manager Noel King taking the reins for their remaining World Cup qualifiers while Ray Houghton and Ruud Dokter compiled a report of who the FAI should approach for the role.
They presented their recommendation yesterday, with the FAI’s official Twitter account confirming that talks were at an advanced stage with both O’Neill and Keane, and the appointment could be confirmed as early as today.
The tweet read: "We can confirm that the management appointment process with Martin O'Neill & Roy Keane is at an advanced stage.Updates from @FAIreland today."
Delaney also gave his endorsement over the talks, claiming that it was a sure-fire thing and they hope to make an announcement by Saturday.
"I don't see any impediment to that (signing contracts) happening," Delaney told Newstalk radio. "I hope that this Saturday, this coming Saturday, there will be an unveiling of our new management.
"He (O'Neill) asked what the association's view would be about Roy being considered and I said absolutely no problem.
"People would have known Roy and I wouldn't have had much contact in the past, because he was a player with the team, I was probably treasurer."
Northern Irishman O’Neill has been out of work since he was sacked as Sunderland manager in March this year, having been in charge of the Black Cats for nearly 15 months. Ironically, Keane has also spent time in charge on Wearside, having managed Sunderland from August 2006 until December 2008.
The Republic of Ireland face Latvia at the Aviva Stadium later this month before an away trip to take on Poland, and it was hoped that the new boss would be in charge for both of those games, with King picking a preliminary squad that will then be whittled down by the new man in charge.
Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy, who has had a previous spell in charge of Ireland, was also linked with the job but their managing director Ian Milne said: “We’ve had no approach – the owner, us at the club, or Mick”.
The addition of Keane to O'Neill's coaching staff is somewhat controversial given his history with the national side, with his tirade towards McCarthy during the 2002 World Cup campaign leading to his omission from the squad, only to be re-called once McCarthy had resigned by Brian Kerr.
He retired from international football in 2006 though and later hit out at the FAI, claiming they only picked players due to their media exposure and their preference for those originating from Dublin and other areas in the Leinster province.
With the confirmation of O’Neill and Keane’s appointment imminent, their first task will be preparing for the 2016 European Championship qualifiers, which will provide an extra carrot for fringe teams such as the Irish with the tournament expanding to 24 teams from its current 16.
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