Martin O'Neill expected to be announced as new Ireland manager
NOEL KING will draft a preliminary 40-man squad for Ireland's November friendlies with Latvia and Poland but there is growing confidence that the FAI will have a new man in place for the fixtures.
A number of bookmakers suspended betting last night after long-standing first-choice candidate Martin O'Neill was backed off the boards.
It has emerged that the recruitment team of Ray Houghton and Ruud Dokter will not present their report to the association's hierarchy until Monday.
O'Neill, who has been in contact with the FAI through intermediaries, was expected to give an answer to the FAI this week.
Mick McCarthy, who was considered the back-up to the initial choice, is still in the dark and Ipswich managing director Ian Milne has confirmed there's been no contact from the FAI regarding his services. "We've had no approach – the owner, us at the club, or Mick," said Milne.
McCarthy's camp believe that the ball is in O'Neill's court, although they also suspect there could be another left-field candidate in the mix – a theory which has grown legs amid continued uncertainty around the Derry man's club ambitions.
The confirmation of a Friday, November 15 friendly with Latvia at the Aviva Stadium is a clear sign of confidence in FAI HQ as they were reluctant to arrange another home game with a caretaker boss in the dug-out.
There is a Latvian community in Dublin, but the match would be of no appeal to the Irish public without a permanent replacement for Giovanni Trapattoni.
Due to FIFA regulations, the FAI have to give clubs two weeks' notice that their players might be needed for service. Therefore, they have again turned to U-21 manager King, who deputised for the concluding World Cup qualifiers with Kazakhstan and Germany.
He will spread the net wide to cover the bases with a view to the squad being trimmed down nearer the time, but has not been told that he will be in charge for the games themselves.
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