Martin O'Neill and Mick McCarthy emerged as the frontrunners to become the next Republic of Ireland manager after Giovanni Trapattoni was dismissed today.
Following a meeting with officials on their return from the 1-0 World Cup qualifier defeat in Austria, the result that effectively ended Ireland's hopes of reaching Brazil, Trapattoni and assistant Marco Tardelli left their jobs by mutual consent. But as the pair said their goodbyes, the Football Association of Ireland board was beginning the task of identifying a successor.
In a radio interview, chief executive John Delaney pinpointed Ipswich manager McCarthy, Northern Irishman O'Neill, who left Sunderland in March, and former Republic midfielder Roy Keane as potential candidates, together with Leeds' Brian McDermott and Norwich manager Chris Hughton.
McCarthy managed the Republic from 1996 to 2002, bowing out after a poor start to the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign. He and Keane famously fell out before the 2002 World Cup, with the former Manchester United player being sent home.
O'Neill has been at the top of the bookmakers' list since it emerged that Trapattoni's fate would be sealed by a failure to win at the Ernst Happel Stadion, and he remains a firm favourite in the betting.
Delaney said: "The board will meet within the next week. Today was a day to deal with Giovanni and Marco in a dignified manner and hopefully people will respect the job he has done.
"We will meet and will determine a process. We do have time. The European qualifiers don't start until next September. We will take stock of the last couple of days and then discuss the process.
"I think there will be plenty of interest, because first of all, 24 teams go to the European Championships and it's generally accepted we have a good crop of young players. It will be interesting to see who puts their best foot forward. I think names like Mick [McCarthy], Brian McDermott, Chris Hughton, Roy Keane all come into the pot, Martin O'Neill of course."
Revealing how Trapattoni's departure had unfolded, Delaney added: "We spoke to the manager and Marco Tardelli last night. We flew home from Austria and met this morning at half past nine.
"Very quickly we felt the right thing to do at this juncture was to part company but trust me, there was a lot of emotion and there is a strong friendship there."
Trapattoni, 74, said in a statement: "We leave this country with emotion because we understand the Irish supporters, who have a well-deserved international reputation and they have our utmost respect."