Former Republic of Ireland skipper Kenny Cunningham believes Roy Keane is ready for the top job in Irish football.
Martin O’Neill is on the cusp of taking over at Premier League side Stoke City having held talks with the club’s hierarchy.
O’Neill and Keane are both out of contract; their deals expired at the conclusion of Ireland’s failed World Cup qualification campaign.
O’Neill agreed a new two year deal, but stalled on signing. The 64-year-old has not put pen to paper on the documents.
Off the Ball.com understand that Keane had not agreed new terms with the FAI last October when they announced that O’Neill would be extending his stay.
Cunningham was a guest on OTB AM where he told Ger Gilroy that Keane is the obvious choice for the job:
“I think they will, I always felt the longer they were in the job the FAI were pleased with how the partnership was working and it seems an obvious thing (to give Keane the job).
“We all knew Martin would step aside and then the question is whether Roy would be ready to step in and I think it is the right thing to do in terms of transition from assistant manager to manager.
“It’s something I would like to see, it’s something I would have wanted to see a few years ago. Integrating former players into the system working underneath the present manager so when he did step aside they could naturally step into the position.
“Then that kind of process could repeat itself, if Roy was to take the job there are some very talented young Irish coaches around both in the Premier League and at different levels, players he would’ve played with, very talented coaches and I would hope they would come into consideration if Roy was to come into the job.
Cunningham has taken his coaching badges and has worked with the FAI in the past. The Dubliner along with his former team mate Mark Kinsella helped out with the Republic of Ireland U15’s a number of years ago. He told OTB AM that he would like to be involved in shaping the future of Irish soccer:
“Any ex-Irish players working as coaches has aspirations to coach at any level, that’s an easy yes. It’s the biggest honour you could be asked not just to manage the Irish team but to be asked to go in as any kind of management team to work with the senior international pool of players; it’s the elite pool of players.
“It’s the every ex-player's dream,” Cunningham added.