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

Kenny Tucker
January 12, 2018

The 65-year-old was free to hold talks with the Premier League side as he has not yet signed a new contract with the FAI, despite a verbal agreement to commit to the Ireland job for another two years.

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.

The Irish Independent report that former Sunderland manager O'Neill was set to meet with Stoke top brass last night.

Ireland may have only friendlies scheduled until the Uefa Nations Cup kicks off in September, yet the financial risk of losing their Premier League status means the new manager's focus can not be distracted by extra-curricular activities.

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It means O'Neill doesn't need permission to talk to interested parties, nor would the FAI be entitled to any compensation.

O'Neill's decision in 2016 to delay by five months the signing of his new contract suggested the Derry man had a penchant for working to his pace but this latest prevarication always carried the threat of blowing up in the face of his employers.

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. It appears that O'Neill, whilst having agreed a contract with the FAI was still open to offers from others.

It's understood that Stoke have asked Flores for a final answer by this afternoon.

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