Belfast Telegraph

O'Leary for Republic as England target O'Neill

By Steven Beacom

As Nigel Worthington ponders his future as Northern Ireland manager, it looks increasingly likely that Steve McClaren and Steve Staunton are on their way out of their respective jobs.

As for the replacements, look in the direction of Martin O'Neill and David O'Leary.

England coach McClaren will only survive if Israel do him a favour and avoid defeat to Russia which would still give England a chance to reach the Euro 2008 finals.

Mind you, they would still have to beat Croatia after that.

The 2-1 defeat to Russia on Wednesday night could be the beginning of the end for McClaren.

And it could be the start for former Northern Ireland captain and Aston Villa manager O'Neill, who McClaren beat to the job when Sven-Goran Eriksson left last summer.

Ex-Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho would be another candidate to replace McClaren, although the Special One would cost the FA a lot more than the Ulsterman.

Today Villa chairman Randy Lerner said that O'Neill would make a great England manager - but does not want him to leave.

"I have no doubt that he could be a highly successful national coach," said American billionaire Lerner.

"Martin is integral to our plans for Villa. If he left, it would leave us needing to get to work pretty quickly I suppose - but it is something I have never speculated upon."

O'Neill will be more concerned about Villa's home game with Manchester United tomorrow.

Staunton will be concerned that FAI Chief John Delaney refused to back him.

The writing is on the wall after the embarrassing 1-1 draw at home to Cyprus in midweek.

And O'Leary is odds on favourite to replace Staunton, who is insisting that he intends staying on. He has two more years left on his contract.

Belfast Telegraph


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