Roy Keane is set to rebuff approaches to make him the manager of the Republic of Ireland if Brian Kerr is sacked next week.
Kerr will lose his job should Ireland not win their final two group matches - away to Cyprus and home to Switzerland - and fail to make the play-offs for next year's World Cup.
Senior figures in the Football Association of Ireland have discussed appointing Keane as Kerr's replacement. However, sources close to the 34-year-old are adamant he is determined to continue playing for at least one more season after this term. They say he would certainly not accept the post now, even if it was offered on a part-time or player-manager basis.
Last week, Keane revealed he did not expect to be given another contract by Manchester United when his present deal expires next summer and that he would not play for another Premiership club. It had been widely accepted that this meant he would seek a move to Celtic.
Interestingly, sources last night said Keane would prefer a move away from the British Isles, possibly to France or the Netherlands, with a one or two-year deal at an established club to learn the ropes of coaching in another environment. Keane believes this would allow him to progress with less of the spotlight than he would endure in Glasgow.
Keane would certainly like to take charge of Ireland - but not, it appears, right now. He knows the pressure on Kerr's successor would be great - nothing short of qualification for a major tournament is acceptable - and is concerned that the time elapsed between his walkout at the last World Cup and his re-emergence into the fold is not enough.
Ironically, it was Kerr who brought back Keane in what was an astonishing coup for the manager who succeeded Mick McCarthy, but who has been under mounting pressure over Ireland's faltering campaign. It has not helped his cause that most of the senior officials who appointed him have moved on and he has few allies in the FAI - Kerr is also seen as a conservative character who lacks inspiration and avoids confrontation.
If Kerr does go and Keane does not accept the job, Ireland will still want a "big name". A former favoured candidate of the new regime was Bryan Robson, the West Brom manager.Reuse content