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Sunday 17 November 2019

FAI rule out O'Neill Forest move

Short-term role with former club not on agenda for Ireland boss

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is a target for Nottingham Forest following Billy Davies' departure
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is a target for Nottingham Forest following Billy Davies' departure
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The FAI have dismissed reports that Nottingham Forest have made a shock move to bring in Martin O'Neill as temporary manager until the end of the season.

Forest, who are chasing promotion from the Championship, are looking for a new boss after parting company with Billy Davies and media in England suggested that their owner Fawaz-Al-Hasawi had moved to recruit O'Neill in a short term emergency arrangement.

However, the Irish Independent understands there has been no contact between Forest and O'Neill and the FAI do not anticipate any change in their working arrangement.

Earlier this week, Al-Hasawi was encouraged to go after O'Neill and his assistant Roy Keane by ex-Forest striker Stan Collymore, who wanted the Midlanders to buy out their contracts and secure them permanently.

However, Keane – a former Forest player – dismissed that idea in Cork on Wednesday, suggesting that it was non-runner because they had only been in the job for "two minutes."

O'Neill won two European Cups and a league title during his glittering decade-long stay with the Championship promotion chasers.

He mulled over taking the Ireland job because it would take him out of the club sphere, but has stressed that he is committed to the challenge of reaching Euro 2016.

Ireland's next game is a friendly match with Turkey on May 25. If Forest succeeded in making the play-off final, their fate would be determined at Wembley just 24 hours earlier.

Neil Warnock and Stuart Pearce have already ruled themselves out of the running to replace Davies and Forest's search is set to continue with O'Neill focused on his Irish mission.

Meanwhile, Keane has encouraged young footballers to consider staying at home in the League of Ireland and furthering their education before going to England.

The Irish assistant manager knows that the majority of kids will be tempted to go across the water at an early age but feels that emigrating later could benefit their personal development.

Keane addressed the Ireland U-17 squad recently and said he did not envy those who have left home already.

The Corkman was 19 when he was plucked from Cobh Ramblers by Nottingham Forest.

"I spoke to the U-17s and you forget how young they are," said Keane. "I can only speak from experience, but I don't think it would have suited me going over to England at 16, though I can understand why it's hard for young players to turn it down when they have the chance.

"Going over at 19 suited me, I had the year with Cobh, the year on a FAS course and experience of a tough league. The League of Ireland is heavily criticised, but it is a good level. I was ready for the full-time training.

"My heart goes out to the young players, particularly Irish players, who go over at 16.

"These young lads must get homesick. It's a shock to the system; sure it's hard enough moving when you're 19, 20 or 21. It's a big ask."

Irish Independent

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