Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane linked with a return to former club Nottingham Forest
Martin O'Neill has been installed among the favourites to return to his former club Nottingham Forest, after it was confirmed on Friday morning that manager Aitor Karanka had left his role.
O'Neill, who ended his reign as Republic of Ireland manager last November, was a key figure in Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest team that won the European Cup in 1979 and 1980 and remains a popular figure among the club's supporters.
The involvement of former Forest midfielder Roy Keane in O'Neill's set-up at the City Ground could strengthen his hand, with the return of two of the club's golden boys likely to be welcomed by a club still in the mix to win promotion from the Championship this season.
Karanka departed with the club sitting just one place outside of the play-off positions and having beaten promotion rivals Leeds 4-2 in a thrilling game at the City Ground on New Year's Day.
A statement by the club read: "Aitor Karanka has asked to be released from his contract as the manager of Nottingham Forest Football Club.
"The club have agreed to this request and the terms of departure have been agreed. Both parties wish each other every success for the future.
"There will be no further comment from either party. Simon Ireland will take charge of first-team affairs until a new manager is appointed."
Bookmakers have installed former Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic as favourite to be the next Forest boss, with Gary Rowett also mentioned as possible contender after he was sacked by Stoke earlier this week.
Yet the Nottingham Post newspaper are suggesting the O'Neill/Keane double act are being considered by Forest officials, with both confirming in recent weeks that they are keen to return to the game.
"I genuinely think that you always have to have the mindset, that you have a point to prove," said O'Neill in an interview with the Telegraph last month. "Until the last day of your existence, you have a point to prove.
"That has always been the case with me, right from when I started out as a player. To have had the career I've had, you have to have that.
"I still possess that strong self-belief, I will always back myself. I will back myself in whatever job I take next.
"Maybe there is a perception now that am I not only too old, but that I'm on the outside looking in. There is an age element to it, there is a feeling that people believe you have closed your mind to things and it could not be further from the truth. My mind remains open."