O'Neill and Keane dismiss Nottingham Forest link

Martin O'Neill

Republic of Ireland management duo distance themselves from a return to their old club.

Martin O’Neill has denied speculation linking him with the vacant managerial post at Nottingham Forest, according to reports in Ireland.

O’Neill, the Republic of Ireland manager, is the latest high profile name to be linked to the Championship club, who are looking for a successor to Billy Davies after his second spell in charge of the Reds was brought to an end on Monday in the wake of the 5-0 defeat to local rivals Derby.

The Daily Mail claimed in a report on its website last night that Forest anticipate speaking to O’Neill today about the possibility of him taking over on an interim basis for the remainder for the season.

But the 62-year-old former City Ground favourite has said he has not spoken to his old club.

``I’ve spoken to Martin,`` a spokesman for the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) told the Irish Times.

``He says there’s nothing in it and he doesn’t know where it’s come from.`

O’Neill is the second ex-Forest player in as many days to be linked with the job after Reds legend Stuart Pearce.
He won two European Cups, a league title and a League Cup during his glittering decade-long stay at the club.

Earlier this week, Stan Collymore, another former Red, urged Forest owner and chairman Fawaz Al-Hasawi to `pay whatever remuneration` in takes in compensation to the FAI to release O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane from their Republic of Ireland contracts.

Although there was no approach, there had even been suggestions that O’Neill and Keane might reprise their partnership at a club where both have played in the past.

However, speaking at Cork City's patron scheme launch on Wednesday night, Keane was eager to reaffirm his commitment to his current role with the national side.

``No, there’ll always be speculation,`` he said. ``I was linked with a job a few months ago and I’ve had opportunities to go abroad but me and Martin have been in the door two minutes with the senior team and we’re enjoying it.

``There’s a big, big challenge ahead. Sometimes with this speculation you’d take it as a compliment. Forest are a top club but my intentions are to continue working with Martin and the senior team and try and qualify for the European Championships.``

Al Hasawi has experienced problems replacing Davies with Neil Warnock and then Pearce turning down the opportunity.

Warnock rejected the Reds after claiming that he was unhappy with the conditions of the job while Pearce declined the invitation for personal reasons.

Despite the setbacks Al Hasawi revealed on Thursday that he hoped to make an appointment by the end of next week and that Steve Clarke, Malky Mackay and Gianfranco Zola are now on his shortlist of candidates.

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