Going...Going... Gone? Martin O'Neill holds talks with Stoke City

Going...Going... Gone? Martin O'Neill holds talks with Stoke City

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

O'Neill was in contention for the job but it now looks as if former Watford boss and current Espanyol manager Quique Sanchez Flores will take over at the Britannia.

First-team coach Eddie Niedzwiecki has been in caretaker-charge this week, with both Hughes and his assistant Mark Bowen leaving the club after last Saturday's humiliating FA Cup exit at the hands of League Two side Coventry.

Given the requirement to regain stability at the Bet365 Stadium following a disastrous 2017, sources claim Stoke would want O'Neill on an undivided basis.

Keane was tipped as O'Neill's potential successor in the national gig but could now be with him at the Potteries.

Going...Going... Gone? Martin O'Neill holds talks with Stoke City
Going...Going... Gone? Martin O'Neill holds talks with Stoke City

On January 12, O'Neill will return to Dublin, having still not signed that contract, after meeting with Stoke City officials this week regarding their vacant manager's position.

The Irish Independent does, however, speculate that, should the package at Stoke fail to find room for Keane, he will remain with the FAI and another of the Irish backroom staff - Steves Guppy, Walford or Seamus McDonagh - will join O'Neill.

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. The contract was agreed in principle, but O'Neill delayed.

O'Neill and Keane have worked together for Ireland since 2013 but did not manage to secure a spot at this summer's World Cup.

The FAI insisted that yesterday was no different to any other day, and that O'Neill would be flying to the UEFA Nations League draw later this month as Irish manager.

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