Roy Keane during squad training at Lansdowne Road this afternoon. Cathal Noonan/INPHO
roy the bhoy

Martin O'Neill confirms Celtic's 'informal talks' with Roy Keane

The Ireland manager took this evening’s press conference instead of his assistant as expected.

Updated 19.42

DERMOT DESMOND RANG Martin O’Neill this week to enquire about the availability of Roy Keane, the Ireland manager confirmed this evening.

The Corkman is the favourite to take over from Neil Lennon at Celtic Park after a flurry of bets last night.

Keane was due to take today’s press conference at the Aviva Stadium after squad training but O’Neill emerged to face the media instead.

“I had a call the other day from Dermot Desmond wanting to speak to Roy if it was at all possible. I mentioned it to Roy, of course,” O’Neill said.  ”I’m sure he wanted to have a chat because obviously a club like Celtic might not come around too often.

“It was a really informal chat I think. I would be really disappointed of course if Roy was to leave us.

“But I kind of felt when I took him on in the first place for the course of the next 18 months to two years that this kind of thing was likely to happen. He was coming right back into high profile again and perhaps I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.”

This evening, Celtic have released a statement confirming that they are in discussions with more than one candidate about the position.

“Following speculation concerning the managers position at Celtic, the club can confirm that it is currently continuing its discussions with a number of excellent candidates,” it reads.

“We will continue this process and select who we regard as the best appointment for Celtic. We will update our supporters as soon as this process is complete.”

Ireland boss O’Neill also admitted that Desmond’s call isn’t the first from a club since Keane took the post with the FAI.

Celtic is one,” he said. “He has had a number of offers as well too from other football clubs so he obviously has a lot to consider.”

O’Neill says he expects Keane to be involved at Craven Cottage on Saturday when Ireland take on Italy but when asked if he’ll have his assistant by his side in America, he said: “I think we’ll take it step by step at the moment. Things can develop very, very quickly or slowly but I expect him to be there for the game coming up against Italy.”

If Champions League football is enough to lure Keane to Glasgow, could he juggle both jobs?

“Because it has just arrived really, that sort of thing I haven’t really got a chance to speak to him about. I genuinely haven’t had a chance to. It’s a possibility, but if you’re a manager of a football club, then I think maybe that sort of thing of coming back and doing something else might be difficult,” O’Neill said.

Additional reporting by Niall Kelly

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