Roy Keane links to Villa just rumours – John Delaney
JOHN DELANEY has described suggestions that Roy Keane is on the verge of agreeing a deal with Aston Villa to become their assistant boss as "rumours and hearsay".
The Corkman has been strongly linked with a role at the Villa Park outfit that he could combine with his Irish job after he turned down the chance to manage Celtic.
But Delaney has dismissed reports that a deal was imminent and expressed his satisfaction that Keane is committed to working as number two to Martin O'Neill.
"I had breakfast with him this morning in London," Delaney told the Irish Independent yesterday.
"I wasn't that surprised he stayed. Roy is very loyal and has a huge degree of loyalty to Martin O'Neill. They have a great relationship. He has shown a great work commitment to us so I wasn't surprised he decided to stick with us."
Asked specifically about the Villa speculation, the FAI chief executive said: "There will always be rumours and hearsay."
The path to work with the Premier League club has cleared up for Keane after it emerged that he has pulled out of ITV's World Cup coverage which would have tied him up until the middle of July.
Paul Lambert, the under-pressure Villa boss, has identified Keane as an option to become his right-hand man. The pair first spoke about the possibility more than a month ago when the Scot's back-up Ian Culverhouse was shown the door by Villa along with head of operations Gary Karsa.
There is an expectation that they will talk again when Keane returns from the United States with the Irish team, who jet out of Dublin this afternoon ahead of friendlies with Costa Rica in Philadelphia on Friday and Portugal in New York next Tuesday.
It is believed that ITV have been exploring contingency plans to replace Keane and were aware of his decision long before it went public.
He was present at their World Cup launch in London on May 13, but last week O'Neill said that Keane would not be going straight on to Brazil after he finished up with Irish duties, indicating that he had matters to deal with at home.
The man in demand could have another decision to make following on from his rejection of Celtic over the weekend, but the FAI are confident that Ireland is his priority.
The 42-year-old linked up with the Irish squad last night after a break following Saturday's heartening scoreless draw with Italy.
Meanwhile, O'Neill will travel with a depleted defensive selection after Crystal Palace's Damien Delaney and Villa's Ciaran Clark were scratched off the booking for the plane to the US.
Delaney has been excused after a long season and Clark is suffering from a minor knee issue sustained in the warm-up to the Italian encounter and has stayed in England to receive treatment.
Stephen Ward has been allowed to miss Friday's Costa Rica encounter. The FAI say that the left-back may link up with the panel for the Portuguese joust.
Jon Walters was excused from training yesterday as he is suffering from a stomach bug and his travel plans depend on whether he improves overnight.
Wes Hoolahan and David Meyler are expected to be on board with knocks from the Craven Cottage tie not deemed a concern. They are following recovery programmes, while Anthony Pilkington, who is managing a long-standing problem, did routine post-game gym work instead of training.