Martin OÂ’Neill says he hasnÂ’t been contacted by the FAI over the vacant managers job with the Republic of Ireland. The 61-year-old Northern Irishman, who represented his country 64 times as a midfielder, has been out of work since leaving the Black Cats in March and became the overwhelming bookmakersÂ’ favourite to replace Giovanni Trapattoni as Republic boss when the Italian was sacked on Wednesday.
But speaking on BBC Radio Five Live on Thursday evening, OÂ’Neill gave the link short shrift, saying: Â“I have had no contact whatsoever from anyone at the Irish FA at this moment and thereÂ’s not much more I can say about it.Â”
It is, however, understood the Ulsterman is open to an approach, while former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, currently in charge at Ipswich, has not distanced himself from speculation linking him to the vacancy.
Whoever the new Ireland boss is, he could face a baptism of fire in Germany. FAI chief executive John Delaney has admitted that, in an ideal world, he would like to have TrapattoniÂ’s replacement in place in time for next monthÂ’s World Cup qualifiers against Group C leaders Germany Â– who won 6-1 at the Aviva Stadium in October last year Â– and Kazakhstan. Norwich boss Chris Hughton and Leeds counterpart Brian McDermott, who were both mentioned Â– along with OÂ’Neill, McCarthy and Roy Keane Â– by Delaney as prospective candidates in a radio interview on Wednesday, have ruled themselves out.
Hughton said: Â“I was very proud to play for Ireland and I always want to see Ireland winning football matches, but my responsibility is here [at Norwich]. Â“The club has shown great faith in me. They have spent very big in the summer. There is a project here, one started before I got here, and it is a challenge I am very much looking forward to. Â“There will be some very good names mentioned. I donÂ’t know which way they will go, but there wonÂ’t be any shortage of candidates.Â”
That list, however, will not include the name of McDermott, who spoke with his clubÂ’s managing director David Haigh and chief executive Paul Hunt on Wednesday to clarify his intentions. Asked if he was interested in the job, he said: Â“No. My situation is that one day I want to manage the Republic of Ireland, but at this moment IÂ’m at a fantastic football club. Â“I have kind of been adopted here and feel I owe this club and I owe these supporters. They are really important to me.Â”