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Martin O'Neill confident new Republic of Ireland deal

Published 30/08/2016

Republic of Ireland midfielder Jeff Hendrick has been linked with a move to Hull
Republic of Ireland midfielder Jeff Hendrick has been linked with a move to Hull

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill has insisted his new contract will be signed soon despite the agreement being announced almost three months ago.

The Football Association of Ireland announced in June that O'Neill, assistant Roy Keane and the rest of the coaching staff had agreed extended deals as the Republic squad prepared to fly out to France for the Euro 2016 finals.

However, O'Neill later revealed he had yet to put pen to paper, and that remains the case.

Now he has revealed he is close to doing so, although he could not resist a joke when asked about it at his pre-match press conference in Dublin on Tuesday afternoon.

He said: "We are there. It's about to be signed - in the next year and a half. It should be close, honestly."

If any uncertainty on that front is abating, there could yet be swift, if brief, exits from the Republic camp over the next 24 hours with several players thrashing out their immediate futures at club level.

Robbie Brady, one of Ireland Euro 2016 stars, has been linked with Leicester and West Ham over the summer, while Hull and Burnley are interested in Jeff Hendrick, and O'Neill will allow players to head off if things develop ahead of Wednesday night's transfer deadline.

He said: "Yes, that's not a problem at all. If anything happens to any of the players, they have permission to go because they are trying to get their futures sorted out, and while it might be a wee bit of an awkward time, it's just inevitable these things happen, so it's not problem at all."

Keeper David Forde, however, has chosen not to join up with Ireland as he attempts to cement his place in the Portsmouth team following his loan move from Millwall, and O'Neill will turn to Dundalk's Gary Rogers to provide the back-up to Darren Randolph and Keiren Westwood.

Asked about Forde, who missed out on selection for Euro 2016 when the squad was reduced to the final 23, O'Neill said: "David has just joined new club. He's gone to Portsmouth, he's first choice at this minute and I think he feels just at the moment that duty really would be to Portsmouth.

"He's established himself there. They have some games during course of the international games that we are playing. He plays for the club and just at this minute to get that established, he wants to do that.

"He doesn't want to give up that position, and I agree with the sentiment, so he's not with us."

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