Saturday 20 January 2018

Keane link with Israel position batted away as 'rumour'

Ireland's assistant manager Roy Keane
Ireland's assistant manager Roy Keane
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The prospect of Roy Keane becoming the new manager of Israel has been dismissed by Martin O'Neill.

Reports in Israel suggested that Ireland's number two had been identified as their preferred candidate for the Euro 2020 campaign.

But O'Neill says that Keane discusses any potential job offers with him and there had been no discussion of an option that would bring him to Tel Aviv.

"I've been in touch with him but he never mentioned it to me so I don't think there's anything in it," he said. "I think there will always be some sort of, for want of a better word, rumour, I think Roy would share that with me, as he has done with all the things that have come in his direction.

"Roy will want to manage again, yeah, he'll want to make his own decisions. I think this (Ireland job) has been good for him and I think he would want to see this competition through. And honestly, I wouldn't have a clue what might happen in the future.

"I'm not in a position to hold anybody, that was never our arrangement in the first place, but I think Roy would have mentioned if it was something he had to make a decision on."

Meanwhile, Stephen Ward's positive start to the new season has continued after Ireland's first-choice left-back signed a new deal with Burnley.

Ward struck a stunning goal for the Clarets in their success at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and has penned a fresh arrangement that will tie him down until 2019.

O'Neill has been quite satisfied with the way in which a number of Irishmen kicked off the new campaign with moves for Aiden McGeady, Darren Randolph, Cyrus Christie, Glenn Whelan, Jon Walters and Jonny Hayes.

He is pleased by his options in the goalkeeping department with Rob Elliot, Randolph and Keiren Westwood kicking off the campaign with their clubs.

Defenders Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy have stepped up to Premier League level, although Newcastle and Brighton did suffer weekend losses to Spurs and Man City respectively.

"For Shane and his first match for Brighton against Man City, you couldn't ask to play against more difficult opposition," said O'Neill.

"Ciaran has been around for a while and he had to shift positions when they picked up a few injuries. Over the next fortnight, I'm hoping they both stay fit.

"Rob Elliot made a great point-blank save from Harry Kane in that game and it's great to see him back playing in the first team. It looks like the Newcastle management team have faith in him."

Elliot has battled back from long-term injury and another member of the Irish squad to have been through that process twice is Preston left-back Greg Cunningham, who returns to contention. "A couple of my coaching staff have been impressed," said O'Neill.

Irish Independent

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