Martin O'Neill And Roy Keane On Verge Of Irish Exit

Martin O'Neill now looks unlikely to become the new Stoke boss.                     Image Tim Goode

Former Ireland captain Keane would be tipped to compete for the post, were O'Neill to quit, but the indications are that he's also eager to make a Premier League comeback and could deem this a better route into an eventual managerial post in the UK.

Following the sacking of Mark Hughes, Stoke targeted Derby's Gary Rowett as his replacement.

Stoke have had to rejig their managerial wanted list after Gary Rowett signed a new deal on Tuesday night to stay in charge at Derby until 2021 with former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores, now in charge of La Liga club Espanyol, emerging as the frontrunner for the Stoke job.

O'Neill was widely reported to have met with the Premier League outfit earlier this week to discuss the possibility of taking over from Mark Hughes as the club's manager.

The 65-year-old fits the bill because of his experience at top-flight level and the fact he has always been held in high regard by the Stoke hierarchy.


Should Keane not leave then Steve Walford, Steve Guppy and Seamus McDonagh are in contention for roles.

Whether Sánchez Flores ultimately agrees to take over at Stoke remains to be seen, though reports from Spain indicate he is set to accept the offer of a five-year deal from Stoke, while it seems O'Neill is not content to wait around as the club's apparent fallback option.

While the FAI confirmed yesterday that had received no approach from Stoke about talking to O'Neill, the Premier League club were entitled to go directly to the Derryman without consulting Abbotstown as nothing was signed and sealed.

"I can't think of any other Association that would allow their manager to stall in this way", Dunphy told News At One on RTÉ Radio 1. The contract was agreed in principle, but O'Neill delayed.

RTE soccer pundit Eamon Dunphy said that the whole situation was "embarrassing" for the FAI and that he could not imagine the English FA, or any other Association, allowing a situation like that to continue. While it was thought that Keane might stay with the FAI in a relatively smooth succession deal, the paper reports that Keane is likely to follow O'Neill across the water.

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