Friday 21 July 2017

Ireland boss O'Neill rules out return to Leicester

O’Neill confirmed on BBC yesterday that he wouldn’t be interested in the post and also ruled out the prospect of double jobbing on a short term basis. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
O’Neill confirmed on BBC yesterday that he wouldn’t be interested in the post and also ruled out the prospect of double jobbing on a short term basis. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Daniel McDonnell and John Percy

Martin O'Neill has dismissed the suggestion that he could return to former club Leicester in the aftermath of Claudio Ranieri's departure.

The Ireland manager was a target for Leicester before they appointed the Italian in the summer of 2015 but opted to honour his contract with the FAI.

With Ireland top of their World Cup qualifying group, there was no concern in this neck of the woods that O'Neill would be tempted by another call from Leicester.

But his name was still mentioned in reports following Ranieri's shock exit. O'Neill confirmed on BBC yesterday that he wouldn't be interested in the post and also ruled out the prospect of double jobbing on a short-term basis.

"I wouldn't be going - I'm enjoying the job here," said O'Neill.

"There's a big game in a couple of weeks' time (v Wales, March 24) and some difficult matches ahead, not only at the end of March but in June as well.

"If someone was trying to do two jobs at the same time, I think there would be problems if you didn't get the results on both sides."

O'Neill feels the players should accept criticism for their role in Ranieri's departure.

Leicester will step up their search for a successor this week with caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare demanding the spirit of the 'Great Escape'.

Shakespeare, Ranieri's former assistant, is a serious contender to take the job for the rest of the season and would enhance his chances with a victory over Liverpool tonight.

Guus Hiddink, Vitor Pereira and Alan Pardew have all been tentatively approached over the past few days as Leicester assess their options following the controversial dismissal of Ranieri on Thursday.

Shakespeare is also thought to be under consideration after establishing an excellent reputation working as assistant for Ranieri and his predecessor Nigel Pearson.

The 53-year-old was part of Pearson's backroom staff two seasons ago when Leicester won seven of their final nine games to scramble to Premier League safety.

"It would be nice to get that again and it was a great time then in terms of we were written off. We are not written off now," Shakespeare said.

"Of course I understand the seriousness of it. People tell you the league table doesn't lie. We have to make sure we are doing everything we can to climb up that league. There are 13 games left and this squad are good enough to get themselves out of this - that will be the message."

The defending champions have won only five league games this season and have dropped into the bottom three.

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