Martin O'Neill And Roy Keane On Verge Of Irish Exit

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Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, his assistant Roy Keane and other members of his backroom staff will attend this evening's Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland annual banquet.

If O'Neill had taken the job, he would have been free to walk away without the FAI reeceiving any compensation.

"It's like being engaged - you shouldn't be going out with other people".

The Irish Independent report that former Sunderland manager O'Neill was set to meet with Stoke top brass last night.

Stoke's board are understood to be considering the credentials of Quique Flores, the Espanyol coach, but O'Neill is their preferred candidate and discussions are scheduled to continue today.

Former Ireland captain Keane would be tipped to compete for the post, were O'Neill to quit, but the indications are that he's also eager to make a Premier League comeback and could deem this a better route into an eventual managerial post in the UK.

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Should Keane not leave then Steve Walford, Steve Guppy and Seamus McDonagh are in contention for roles.

It is also believed that O'Neill has only made a verbal agreement with the Football Association of Ireland to extend his contract to the Euro 2020 campaign.

Speaking to the News At One on RTÉ Radio 1, Eamon Dunphy said: "It's embarrassing for the FAI".

O'Neill only has a verbal agreement in place with the FAI to remain in charge of the worldwide team and it seems that Potters officials have identified the former Leicester City boss as their number one candidate.

All of which leaves the FAI with a sense of regret at not nailing down O'Neill to the contract extension he verbally agreed to last October.

RTE pundit Dunphy has been critical of O'Neill in the past but this time has taken aim at the association. The contract was agreed in principle, but O'Neill delayed.

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