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O'Neill: I want to hold onto Keane

MARTIN O’Neill will fight to keep Roy Keane as his assistant, despite the strong possibility that the Corkman will be offered the vacant position at Celtic.

I would like him to stay here for every reason under the sun. I think it would be great.

“He is thinking things over, including a couple of other offers as well. I will do my very best to keep him. My very best,” he stressed.

“He wouldn’t take it lightly. He loves it here, genuinely loves it here. It’s been great for him. He has said it to me over the course of time and emphasised it, he loves it.”

With bookies taking big bets on Keane all day yesterday, O’Neill admitted that he had been contacted by Dermot Desmond for an informal chat’ about his No 2’s qualities as a manager.

“I know Dermot a long time, naturally. I just think that he was asking me in a general point about Roy’s managerial quality. I’ve often said he would be a manager but didn’t know it would happen so quickly.”

While O’Neill was pondering events, Celtic issued a holding statement which left nobody the wiser.

“Following speculation concerning the managers position at Celtic, the club can confirm that it is currently continuing its discussions with a number of excellent candidates.

“We will continue this process and select who we regard as the best appointment for Celtic. We will update our supporters as soon as this process is complete.”