Thursday 24 May 2018

Martin O'Neill to discuss new deal with the FAI before end of the month

Martin O'Neill will hold talks with the FAI about extending his contract as Ireland manager. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Martin O'Neill will hold talks with the FAI about extending his contract as Ireland manager. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill will hold talks with the FAI about extending his contract as Ireland manager before the end of the month.

O'Neill previously expressed a desire to stay on for the World Cup campaign, although an interview with the FIFA website over Christmas did cast some doubt over his future.

The Derry man was in Dublin on Friday for the SSE Airtricity/SWAI awards and did speak to FAI CEO John Delaney earlier in the day about plans for the coming months leading up to the European Championships. He confirmed that a contract meeting is on the agenda.

"We just thought we'd get Christmas and New Year out of the way," said O'Neill. "I saw John and he wants to get things moving in the next few weeks so I think there'll probably be some sort of chat about it. Nothing has been talked about yet but he mentioned that we would sit down over the next couple of weeks, which we intend to do."

There is no deadline set for those talks but, with an eye to the Euros, O'Neill admits that the March friendlies with Switzerland and Slovakia will likely be the last chance for uncapped players to put themselves in the picture for France.

Four years ago, he was the manager of Sunderland as James McClean came on to the scene and got on the plane to Poland. The 63-year-old feels that any player with realistic aspirations will have to be available to make an impact in the Dublin double header.

"If there is a chance of anybody trying to come through, then maybe the March games are the ones. . . I don't want to close it off, but it might be very difficult, very difficult, if someone after March came through.

"I still think that a James McClean situation can happen at any given time, I wouldn't rule out any of those things. There's a couple of players that have been on the periphery that have not had a chance, and could maybe have thought they should have had a chance - players like Alan Judge, for instance, who is doing very, very well - so I'd like to include them.

"I don't want to give out caps by a willy nilly basis, but by the same token here, there's one or two players who are doing very well and might just deserve that chance."

O'Neill has welcomed the news that Roberto Martinez has spoken about sending Darron Gibson and Aiden McGeady on loan. The Everton boss said on Saturday that three teams have made enquiries about the latter. "I think it would be better for all if they go, " O'Neill said.

The goalkeeping situation is a concern. Darren Randolph seized an FA Cup opportunity to keep a clean sheet for West Ham against Wolves but O'Neill has indicated that he would like his autumn stand-in to play more first team games. With Shay Given out through injury, the candidate in the best position at the moment is Newcastle's Rob Elliot.


"Seamus (McDonagh) has seen him a number of times and thinks he's doing very well so the situation is that if the Euros were in the next couple of weeks, the decisions nearly take care of themselves, but there is time," said O'Neill.

In the build-up to the finals, a training camp in Austria or Spain is an option, but O'Neill is now leaning towards staying close to home - possibly in England - so players can be close to their families.

Ireland play Holland in Dublin on May 27 and O'Neill has floated the possibility of stints in the chosen 'relatively local' base either side of that match with a training game an option. His team must be in France five days before the opener with Sweden on June 13.

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