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Carsley in frame for U21s

Former Ireland midfielder could replace King as boss


IRISH CHANCE: Lee Carsley, pictured in his role as a coach for the England U21s. Photo: Getty Images

IRISH CHANCE: Lee Carsley, pictured in his role as a coach for the England U21s. Photo: Getty Images

IRISH CHANCE: Lee Carsley, pictured in his role as a coach for the England U21s. Photo: Getty Images

Former Ireland international Lee Carsley is one of the leading contenders to take over as manager of the Republic's U21 side after Noel King's eight-year reign as manager ended.

The FAI last night finally confirmed that King (62), who succeeded Don Givens as U21 coach in 2010, was leaving the post.

FAI CEO John Delaney said: "I would like to thank Noel for the time and effort that he put into the U21s, where he has brought through a number of players for our senior Ireland team."

As the Irish side failed to qualify for the 2019 European Championship finals, there will be no competitive game for almost a year, so the FAI have time to put a new man in place.

Robbie Keane and Damien Duff have both been linked with the manager's job, or a role in a new-look management team, but as neither of those has a UEFA pro-licence coaching qualification, the job opportunity has almost certainly come too soon.

A pro-licence is required to manage a team in the League of Ireland Premier Division and while the U21 boss does not need to have the pro-licence, handing an important role like manager of the U21 side to a coach who is not fully qualified would send out a wrong signal to some and while the FAI would like to have high-profile players like Duff and Keane on board, they are unlikely to get the main job.

The FAI have recently recruited ex-players like Richard Dunne, Andy Reid, Kevin Doyle and Sean St Ledger to coach the Irish underage sides.

Carsley (44) is a highly-qualified coach and he has held various roles within the English FA in recent years. He pointed out that he had contacted the FAI to offer his services, before taking up an England coaching role.

"Myself and Kevin Kilbane put ourselves forward, wanting to help out but nothing came back," Carsley has said. His most recent role with the FA was with England's U21s in 2017.

The ex-midfielder, capped 40 times (1997-2008) would be a popular appointment due to his coaching credentials.

Tom Mohan, who's currently in charge of the Irish U19s, has been mentioned in relation to the job but the Fermanagh native is reportedly content with his current position.

King had a superb start to his time as manager of the U21s, overseeing a 5-0 win over Estonia in his first game in charge as future stars like Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, Anthony Stokes and Conor Hourihane impressed.

A number of players came through the U21 ranks and stepped up at senior level as Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Shane Duffy, Matt Doherty and Aiden O'Brien all played under King. A 4-2 win away to a strong Italy side in a qualifier in 2012 was a highlight of King's spell.

But the side was never really in contention for Euro qualification under King and eventually finished third in a six-team group in the qualifiers for Euro 2019.