FAI insists Ireland managerial search is progressing

Damian Spellman, PA

The Football Association of Ireland insists it is getting closer to appointing a new Republic of Ireland manager after a three-month search for Stephen Kenny’s replacement.

Kenny lost his job in November following a disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, since when the FAI has interviewed a series of potential candidates with England Under-21s coach Lee Carsley, former Celtic manager Neil Lennon and ex-Wales boss Chris Coleman understood to be among them.

Despite an exhaustive process, the vacancy remains unfilled, although the association’s director of football, Marc Canham, is adamant that progress has been made.

Speaking to reporters at the launch of the FAI’s Player Pathway development plan on Tuesday, Canham said: “The process is ongoing and we hope to complete that as soon as possible.

“It’s a confidential process, we ran a very tight process, we respect all the people we spoke to and speak to.

“We respect their confidentiality, we know it’s an important role for Irish football. We are doing things in the right way and hope to complete that process.

“With the men’s head coach the consistent message is that the process is ongoing, we hope to complete that process and we are getting closer.

“Similar to what we did with the women’s national team head coach, we are following a similar timeline. We continue to have positive conversations with candidates.”

Carsley, 49, is understood to be the FAI’s preferred candidate, but sources close to the 40-cap Ireland midfielder have provided conflicting messages over his willingness to accept the post.

Lennon has reportedly been told that he will not be appointed while suggestions that Coleman, who guided his native country to the semi-finals at Euro 2016, could be Kenny’s successor have been played down in Wales.

Ireland are due to face Belgium and Switzerland in a friendly double-header at the Aviva Stadium in March ahead of fixtures against Hungary and Portugal in June.

They will not be at the Euro 2024 finals in Germany this summer after finishing fourth in Group B behind France, the Netherlands and Greece with all six of their points coming from home and away victories over Gibraltar.

Kenny, who replaced Mick McCarthy in April 2020, had targeted the campaign as the one during which his blueprint for lasting success with a young, vibrant team would come to fruition, but he left his post having won only six of the 29 competitive games for which he was in charge.