Martin O’Neill gives Roy Keane July deadline for Villa decision
Ireland boss open to idea of No 2 taking up job-sharing option as Lambert’s assistant
Martin O’Neill has given Roy Keane a July 31 deadline to decide if he wants to accept Aston Villa’s offer to become Paul Lambert’s assistant manager.
Having confirmed that Lambert and Keane have already met to discuss the possibility of the Republic of Ireland assistant manager moving to the Premier League club, O’Neill expressed his openness to the idea of a job-sharing arrangement being struck.
However, he is not prepared to wait endlessly for the drama to unfold, insisting the last day of July will be his cut-off point, by which stage Keane will have to prove to O’Neill and the FAI chief executive John Delaney that his Villa commitments will not impinge on his role as Ireland No 2.
“I want to be careful about jumping the gun because we had him signed, sealed and delivered to Celtic and that did not materialise,” said O’Neill. “I don’t really know if this (becoming assistant manager at Aston Villa) is something that he is going to have a serious look at.
“But if he is then I will definitely speak (again) to Paul Lambert – and see if that kind of role can be combined.
“One thing I want to establish is what sort of in-depth conversations have gone on. I have spoken to Paul Lambert. Paul has spoken to
Roy about the possibility of it happening. Nothing definitive has happened and I don’t really know what sort of commitment (the Villa position) would entail. If he is actually a full-blooded assistant then that is something to consider.”
Yet while O’Neill is open to the possibility of Keane moonlighting, he emphasised yesterday that he would like the issue to be resolved before the end of July.
“I don’t mind it (speculation) going on for a week or two. Celtic wanted something in place as they have games coming up quite soon. And I assume Aston Villa will want to get something in place by the time they start pre-season. I don't want it to be continued right through until August time.”
Meanwhile, David Forde and Wes Hoolahan were tight-lipped on their club futures in the aftermath of the loss to Portugal at the Metlife Stadium.
Both players have uncertain situations, with Forde out of contract at Millwall, who want to keep him, while Hoolahan’s future at Norwich is up for debate considering new boss Neil Adams froze him out during his caretaker stint that culminated in relegation.
Forde was more forthcoming, suggesting that talks with Millwall have progressed, but he has other clubs preparing counter-offers,
with Crystal Palace keen. “I just wanted to come away and do this trip and I’ll go back and, hopefully, crack on and sort something out,” he said.
Hoolahan suggested he will take a holiday before considering the next step. He tried to force a move out of Carrow Road in January when Aston Villa were interested and Lambert’s intentions could shape the Dubliner’s summer.