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Roy Keane lined up for Aston Villa job

By James Tait

Roy Keane turned down the Celtic job because he had another offer on the table – from Aston Villa.

The former Manchester United captain is now likely to become Paul Lambert's new assistant at Villa Park, while retaining a similar role alongside Martin O'Neill with the Republic of Ireland.

Equally important, the Villa job is unlikely to impinge on Keane's lucrative deal as a pundit with ITV Sport on Champions League nights.

Lambert held talks with Keane  before Celtic's failed attempt to lure him to Parkhead, and the Corkman is expected to replace Ian Culverhouse, who was sacked by Villa last month.

Ex-West Brom head coach Steve Clarke, meanwhile, is now a hot 4/6 favourite for the Celtic job, with Malky Mackay 2/1 and Owen Coyle priced at 4/1.

Clarke has been out of work since being sacked by the Baggies halfway through last season – a move that almost cost the Midlands club their Premier League status.

Working with Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert appeals to Roy Keane

By Graham Luney

Roy Keane’s career is littered with tales of drama and controversy and the Corkman made sure it was business as usual yesterday.

The day began with Celtic fans preparing to embrace him as their new manager, with Keane due to wave an emotional farewell to his short adventure with Martin O’Neill and the Republic of Ireland.

But by the end of play, Keane had written a very different script.

Suddenly, Parkhead was not his expected destination, and he would not be succeeding former Northern Ireland international Neil Lennon.

Instead, the former Manchester United captain is now considering a surprise move to Aston Villa — to become manager Paul Lambert’s new assistant.

The temptation for 42-year-old to join Villa is significant as it would enable him to continue working for the Republic of Ireland — and also remain as an highly-paid ITV pundit.

Scottish champions Celtic will be bemused by developments after holding talks with Keane but it is understood he is reluctant to quit on his country again, following his infamous bust-up at the 2002 World Cup.

Keane sensationally walked out as a player before the finals in Japan and South Korea.

Good pals with Lambert who played under O'Neill at Celtic, Keane appears to be more willing to join a new Villa backroom team after the club sacked Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa.

The duo were dismissed last month following an investigation into allegations of bullying.

Former Sunderland and Ipswich manager Keane returned to football as O’Neill’s assistant in November and Irish fans will be relieved he has informed FAI chief-executive John Delaney that he is staying put in that capacity.

Celtic sources insist that Keane was not formally offered their job after his discussions with billionaire majority shareholder Dermot Desmond last week but it's understood he was the choice of the Hoops’ hierarchy and they were confident that he would affirm his interest in the position.

Keane knew he had to make a quick decision ahead of the Republic’s trip to America and decided against leaving the Irish role after just eight months — and before the European Championship campaign that the pair were hired to oversee.

He contacted Celtic to make them aware of his verdict and they have turned their attentions elsewhere with ex-West Brom boss Steve Clarke (pictured) top of the list.

The Scot was sounded out over the weekend as the Hoops monitored the available options in case they required a fall-back plan.

With Keane now out of the frame, bookies have made former Liverpool and Chelsea number two Clarke the new favourite to take over from Lennon.

The Glagow giants were initially thought to have been keen on former Manchester United manager David Moyes, while another former Celtic central defender, Malky Mackay, sacked by Cardiff City last season, has also been linked strongly with the vacancy.

Keane has been a constant source of speculation since O'Neill brought him on board the Irish ticket and the FAI know that further interest is likely. Still, after a week where Abbotstown staff were privately admitting that Keane would be on his way, this news comes as a considerable relief.

A number of the Irish players also thought that the former skipper would take the reins at Celtic, but he will be present at Malahide this evening ahead of tomorrow's flight to America for the friendlies with Costa Rica and Portugal.

l Celtic have announced they will face German Third Division outfit Dynamo Dresden in a pre-season friendly at the Glucksgas Stadium next month.

The July 19 game is part of Celtic's preparations for the new season, and comes just four days after their first Uefa Champions League qualifier.

Dresden will play in Bundesliga 3 next season after finishing second bottom of Germany's second tier last term. The Scottish champions also take on another German side, St Pauli, in Hamburg on Saturday, July 26.

Belfast Telegraph

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