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Dublin: 1°C Thursday 6 May 2021

Lennon 'flattered' by Ireland links while Cook rules himself out

The managers of Hibernian and Wigan Athletic have had their say on Ireland’s vacancy.

NEIL LENNON SAYS he’s flattered by links to the vacant Republic of Ireland manager’s job.

However, the former Northern Ireland midfielder insists that his sole focus is on his current role as manager of Scottish Premiership club Hibernian.

Celtic v Hibernian - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership - Celtic Park Hibernian manager Neil Lennon. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Lennon took over at Easter Road in 2016 and guided the Edinburgh outfit back to the Scottish top flight in his first season in charge. Following a run of four consecutive defeats, his side recently slipped to eighth place in the table. 

“I’m in a very good job here and I’m just concentrating on that at the minute,” Lennon told reporters at a press conference this afternoon ahead of Hibernian’s clash with Dundee, when asked about potentially being in the running for the Ireland job.

“It’s just speculation. I’m flattered if there is a link. I’ve not seen anything or heard anything regarding myself. All I’ve been doing is concentrating on us getting back into winning form because that’s important.”

Martin O’Neill, who Lennon played under at Leicester City and Celtic, saw his tenure as Ireland manager come to an end this week after a series of poor results and performances.

Lennon, a former Celtic and Bolton Wanderers boss, said: “I’m sorry to see Martin go because he had such a huge influence on my career, 10 years I played under him. He did some brilliant things with the Republic and I’m sure he’ll come again. He’s brilliant.”

Meanwhile, Paul Cook has ruled himself out of the running to succeed O’Neill, the former Sligo Rovers manager reaffirming his commitment to his current role at Wigan Athletic.

Mick McCarthy is the bookmakers’ hot favourite to be Ireland’s new manager, with Cook and Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny next in line in the betting (Paddy Power).

Sheffield United v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship - Bramall Lane Paul Cook was named Wigan Athletic manager in May 2017. Source: Clint Hughes

As well as leading Wigan back to the English Championship last season, Cook oversaw FA Cup victories over Manchester City, West Ham United and Bournemouth.

Earlier in his management career, the Liverpudlian spent five seasons at the helm of Sligo Rovers, with whom he won two FAI Cups and one League Cup.

Cook told Wigan Today: “I have absolutely no aspirations of leaving this club in any way, shape or form. We have new owners here who’ve come in and are very clear in their plan, and I very much want to be part of that.

“While any links to other jobs are very, very great — especially at a time when we’re not winning games — for me, Wigan Athletic is very much my future.”

He added: “While the Republic of Ireland would be a fantastic job, maybe in the future and everything else — and I do have an affinity with the place from my time there — I want to be successful here at Wigan first and foremost.”

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