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Friday 9 December 2016

Ireland boss Martin O'Neill linked to Leicester City return

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill was in defiant mood after seeing his side emerge with only a point from their Euro 2016 qualifying draw with Scotland
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill was in defiant mood after seeing his side emerge with only a point from their Euro 2016 qualifying draw with Scotland
Martin O'Neill

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill was last night linked with a shock Premier League return after Leicester City sacked Nigel Pearson.

O'Neill is still revered by the Foxes fans having guided them to promotion in 1996 and winning the League Cup twice before departing for Celtic in 2000.

The Derryman is contracted to the FAI until the end of the current European Championship qualification campaign but could be tempted if Leicester's Thai owners, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn, offer a route back into England's top-flight.

Late last night, betting firms pitched O'Neill slightly behind favourite Michael Laudrup to fill the vacancy at odds of 7/1. Were he to be prised away and the FAI compensated, it would seem certain that his assistant Roy Keane would step into the breach for Ireland's four remaining qualifiers in September and October.

The FAI would likely oppose O'Neill's exit, especially given Ireland's precarious position in Group D, but the lure of him returning to complete unfinished business may force the situation. The 63-year-old was left embittered by his sacking from Sunderland in March 2013.

City fans were stunned by Pearson's departure. Having steered Leicester away from Premier League relegation trouble last season, that he was dismissed just a day before the summer transfer window officially opens added more mystery.

His son James was last week one of three players sacked by the club for their part in a sexually-explicit video on the club's post-season tour of Thailand.

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