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'I have huge respect for Martin': Keane happy to be linking back up with O'Neill at Forest

The ex-Ireland management duo will try and steer Nottingham Forest towards a Championship play-off spot.

The pair spent five years in charge together with Ireland.
The pair spent five years in charge together with Ireland.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

THEIR TIME IN charge of the Irish national team came to a disappointing end with no wins in their final six games, but Roy Keane insists he is happy to be linking back up with Martin O’Neill again at Nottingham Forest.

The pair each have an intriguing history at the City Ground, O’Neill winning two European Cups and a league title in the 1980s and Keane making his first mark on English football with Forest before being snapped up by Alex Ferguson and Manchester United a decade later. 

O’Neill was confirmed as Aitor Karanka’s successor a fortnight ago and immediately made his feelings known that he would welcome Keane as his assistant, with the pair having enjoyed a largely successful spell in charge at Landsdowne Road over five years.

Soccer - Barclays League Division One - Nottingham Forest v  Norwich City Keane joined Brian Clough's Forest in 1990 from Cobh Ramblers. Source: EMPICS Sport

The Derry native secured his first win on Saturday with a 3-1 victory against Wigan Athletic, edging his side back into ninth spot after a disappointing home defeat to Bristol City during his first game in charge.

Keane’s addition to his coaching team will be a big boost ahead of Saturday’s trip away to Birmingham City, and the ex-Forest midfielder said that he was happy to be back at the City Ground again for a fresh challenge.

I am happy to be back. I know the manager, he came in a few weeks ago and things moved pretty quickly over the weekend,” Keane said.

“It is nice to get the deal done and get involved this morning with the first session. I am looking forward to it, it is a big challenge and I am ready for it.

“It is good to be back and it will probably take a couple of days to get back in the swing of things. Obviously, I had great memories of my career here as a player, the club gave me my chance and I will always remember them for that.

But it is a different challenge now and I am in a different position coaching the players. I am looking forward to it, a huge challenge ahead and 20 years out of the Premier League. It will be tough but I am looking forward to it.”

The 47-year-old said he was looking forward to linking back up with O’Neill, who straight away identified Keane as his choice to take the assistant’s job with Forest when appointed two weeks ago, admitting he “would dearly like him to join us.”

“There are a lot of big clubs in the Championship fighting to get out of it,” Keane said. “When Martin got the job and gave me a shout, I thought that once a few things fell into place I’d be ready for it.

Screen Shot 2019-01-28 at 15.33.28 The 47-year-old was unveiled as Nottingham Forest's new assistant manager on Monday.

“We will give it a good go, I have huge respect for Martin and the club and it fell into place nicely.

“I have seen the team a number of times over the last year or two and it is going to be tough but hopefully, with one or two signings, a bit of luck we can hopefully be competing.”

Forest are currently four points adrift of the play-off spots in the Championship, with the club seeking a return to the top tier of English football for the first time since 1999.

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Join us to preview the Six Nations with Simon Zebo, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey on Thursday @7pm in Liberty Hall Theatre Dublin.

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Aaron Gallagher

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