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Dublin: 7°C Saturday 26 September 2020

I won't stand in Roy Keane's way if he wants to leave - O'Neill

The Ireland boss also said David Meyler and Anthony Pilkington came through training without any ill effects.

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill pictured at today's press conference.
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill pictured at today's press conference.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

IRELAND MANAGER MARTIN O’Neill says he isn’t annoyed by persistent rumours linking Roy Keane to other jobs and claims he wouldn’t stand in the assistant boss’ way if he chose to avail of an opportunity elsewhere.

Keane has been linked with a number of positions in recent times, most recently the assistant manager role at Man United and the vacant Celtic job.

However, O’Neill emphasised that such stories were “pure speculation” at the moment. Commenting on the Celtic job rumours, he added: “I wouldn’t be standing in his way. I’d speak to John Delaney… The speculation wouldn’t bother me too much.

“When I took him on in the first place, I can’t say I thought of that being an issue. He wasn’t being mentioned for jobs at the time. But such is the profile of the man that I probably should’ve expected it.

“I think the experience with Sunderland and Ipswich will put him in good stead. He’s naturally disappointed with the Ipswich affair. And I think this [role] is good for him.

“He had this opportunity to come with me. I’ve often said he will be a manager. There’s no question about it.”

O’Neill also backed goalkeeper Keiren Westwood to recover after it was last night confirmed that he had been released by Sunderland.

The goalkeeper is currently recuperating from shoulder surgery and has consequently not been included in the current Ireland squad, however O’Neill says he could still be an important part of his plans in the future.

“I spoke to Keiren a number of weeks ago. I think he should be able to get fixed up — he’s a talented lad, but he’s been injured for quite some time.

“With the talent he possesses, he should get fixed up, which of course, is important for him.”

O’Neill said that injury doubts David Meyler and Anthony Pilkington both trained today, and are likely be available for tomorrow’s game with Turkey.

He added that he had yet to decide on the starting XI for the Aviva Stadium clash, but said he’d “give it some consideration this afternoon”.

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