Thursday 23 October 2014

Martin O'Neill refuses to discuss Keane saga

Daniel McDonnell and Liam Kelly

Published 05/06/2014 | 02:30

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, right, and assistant manager Roy Keane on the sidelines during the international friendly against Italy at Craven Cottage
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, right, and assistant manager Roy Keane on the sidelines during the international friendly against Italy at Craven Cottage

Martin O'Neill wants to park talk of Roy Keane's future until after Ireland's tour of the United States and has refused to discuss the link between his assistant and Aston Villa.

The Irish management team arrived in America last night with their squad ahead of tomorrow night's friendly with Costa Rica in Philadelphia, but Keane's future was the main topic of debate before they left Dublin.

Keane turned down Celtic last weekend and it has since emerged that Villa boss Paul Lambert would like the Corkman as his assistant in an arrangement that he could combine with his Irish duties.

O'Neill, who confirmed Celtic's interest in his No 2 last week, declined to discuss the Villa situation, but indicated that he cannot predict what might happen down the line.

"I think you think I'm a soothsayer, that I can just predict the future," said the 62-year-old.

"Actually, I wish I could predict the future. I might be in better shape than I am.

"I don't really want to continue on about this until we get back from the United States. I'm just going to put things on the back burner if you don't mind, lads. I've dealt with it, okay? Honestly, it isn't really a problem.

"I said there a few days when you asked me about this sort of thing that it (speculation) will happen again, there is no doubt about that and I'll deal with it accordingly at that time or Roy will deal with it."

However, the Irish boss, who had not spoken publicly since Keane spurned the advances of Celtic, expressed his satisfaction that the proposed permanent switch to Parkhead never came to pass.

"I wasn't exactly sure what might happen with him and Celtic. I was always hoping that he might stay with us but was never sure. But I'm delighted that it happened," said O'Neill.

"Celtic is a great club, it's a fantastic club. I'm delighted that he has done so (turned the option down). Maybe we might just get on with things now. The players in particular are delighted and so are the rest of us."

The trimmed-down panel arrived in their New Jersey base last night and will travel down to Philadelphia today ahead of the showdown with the Costa Ricans.

Veteran skipper Robbie Keane will also link up with the party after missing the first two matches of the summer series.

Irish Independent

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