independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Roy won't bail out -- O'Neill

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and his assistant Roy Keane

Ireland boss Martin O'Neill has scotched fears that Roy Keane could be tempted away from his role as international assistant for a club job in England.

Keane was recently linked with the vacant Sheffield Wednesday position when the club's owner, Milan Mandaric, revealed he was considering making an approach, but O'Neill is adamant the former Manchester United midfielder is happy where he is.

"I think Roy's made a commitment here at this stage," O'Neill said. "It seemed strange for Mandaric to say he wanted somebody that he might have had before he came into management, albeit as an assistant, that he might have had that opportunity. I spoke to Roy. Roy hasn't had contact with Sheffield Wednesday. So when it comes around -- if it ever comes around -- I'll deal with it."

O'Neill is under no illusion, however, that Keane will, at some point, want to return to the everyday matter of club management, but sees no reason to think that such a day will come before his two-year contract with Ireland has expired. "I would be surprised," he said. "I think Roy is really committed here.

"Does he want to go and manage on his own at some stage? I'd be wildly disappointed if he didn't. But this is a great opportunity for Roy and I think he wants it. That's my view on it. I didn't spend hours and hours talking to him about it, and he said I'd be the first to know whenever anybody comes in. But I don't see it as anything to get overly concerned about."

O'Neill took in yesterday's lunchtime fixture between Queens Park Rangers and Leicester City to run his eye over the form and fitness of former Ireland captain Richard Dunne.

O'Neill was anxious to stress that Dunne and other veterans remained firmly in his plans, with Robbie Keane set to retain the captain's armband, at least in the short-term.

"Well France is a long way away," O'Neill continued. "Two and a half years for players who are 33 or 34 is a long time.

"However, September is still a long way away too and that's why I mentioned when someone asked me about the captaincy, at the end of the day, it's still a lengthy time away, but not as long as two and a half years.

"Are you saying in planning to get to France, would I use 34-year-olds to get me there even if they only played the first three games? Of course I would."

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