Ireland close in on O’Neill and Keane

The Republic of Ireland Football Association have announced that they are close to reaching an agreement on the appointment of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane as their new managerial team, ESPN has reported.

Ireland have been searching for a replacement since the exit of Giovanni Trapattoni in September, following the team’s failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

The chief executive of the FAI, John Delaney said on Twitter on Tuesday: “Detailed discussions with Martin and Roy are advanced. We hope to have things signed by Saturday. Irish football and our country is bigger than anything. Two icons of Irish football can work together with us. The past is in the past.

Trapattoni guided Ireland to the Euro 2012 finals but the Boys in Green failed to register a point at the competition. The 74-year-old remained as manager following the finals, but after their hopes of qualifying for Brazil 2014 were ended with defeats to Sweden and Austria leaving them six points off a play-off place with two games to go, the decision was taken to end his five-and-a-half year spell as manager.

O’Neill was touted as the early favourite to succeed the Italian, with the 61-year-old having been out of work since his sacking at Sunderland last season.

Former Manchester United midfielder and current TV pundit Keane is expected to be announced as O’Neill’s assistant. The 42-year-old has been limited to television appearances following his unsuccessful spell at Ipswich Town. The ex-Tractor Boys boss will be remembered for walking out of the Ireland camp at the 2002 World Cup after a disagreement with Mick McCarthy, who was boss at the time.

The new managerial pairing are set to make their bow in Ireland’s friendly with Latvia next month in Dublin, before they travel to Poland four days later for another friendly.

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