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Ex-Ireland stars hail new O'Neill and Keane team


 Ronnie Whelan

Ronnie Whelan

Ronnie Whelan

MARTIN O'Neill and Roy Keane are expected to be confirmed as Ireland's new management team within the next 24 hours.

The likely appointment of the 'dream team' has been welcomed by a host of former players - although many wonder how they will work together.

Former greats like Ronnie Whelan and Paul McGrath have described the FAI's selection as great news for Irish football.

Others have expressed concerns, given Keane's fractious relationship with the FAI in the past.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon said: "They're two great characters with a vast knowledge of the game, two very proud men as well. God help the players."

But the FAI is likely to receive an immediate dividend, with fans now preparing to snap up tickets for the November 15 friendly against Latvia at the Aviva.

O'Neill and Keane's presence in the dugout would be a huge draw for the home crowd.

And writing in today's Herald Ronnie Whelan dismisses concerns about the Cork man's temperament.

"If you were to believe some of the stuff I've seen, O'Neill and Keane will find it difficult to walk into the same room without tripping over each other's ego," he writes. "I'm already bored with the suggestions that Keane can not work with anyone else and that the egos at work here will be too big to gel. We just don't know, and we won't know until it happens. For me, this a great appointment," he says.

Whelan admits "there is a widespread perception that he (Keane) has a problem dealing with footballers on a personal level".

"If true, this would have clear implications for his role with Ireland. I don't know whether it is true or not," he adds.

As a club manager, O'Neill was known to have left much of the day-to-day coaching to his assistants while he concentrated on man-management and motivation.

It is thought a similar set-up would be likely in the Ireland camp.