Keane linked to Stoke switch along with O'Neill

Keane linked to Stoke switch along with O'Neill

Mick McCarthy has emerged as the surprise new favourite to return to the Republic of Ireland after bookmakers Paddy Power cut his odds from 8/1 to 3/1, as the Ipswich Town boss replaces Roy Keane at the top of the market.

The Irish Independent report that former Sunderland manager O'Neill was set to meet with Stoke top brass last night.

Hughes was just the second manager in the hotseat after Tony Pulis since Coates bought the club in 2005 for the second time and their reputation for displaying patience with managers was demonstrated by not firing the Welshman until Saturday's humiliating FA Cup Third Round defeat at fourth-tier Coventry City.

Stoke want a new manager in place for Monday's Premier League clash against Manchester United.

Given the requirement to regain stability at the Bet365 Stadium following a disastrous 2017, sources claim Stoke would want O'Neill on an undivided basis.

McCarthy came under huge pressure at points last season, which saw Ipswich finish in 16th - just four points above the drop zone - while the Suffolk side are now languishing in mid-table, seven points adrift of the play-offs.

O'Neill is now out of contract with Ireland, meaning that neither Stoke nor the manager himself had to inform the association of discussions.

There would therefore be no issue for Stoke in terms of pricy compensation.

He has verbally agreed to stay on in Dublin, but with no deal signed it is looking increasingly likely that he could be tempted by a return to full-time club management and former Manchester United and Ireland captain Keane is nearly certain to follow him to the bet365 Stadium should he agree on a move.

O'Neill and Keane have worked together for Ireland since 2013 but did not manage to secure a spot at this summer's World Cup.

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