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McCarthy front-runner to succeed O'Neill as Republic of Ireland manager

Mick McCarthy is the front-runner in the race to replace Martin O'Neill as Republic of Ireland manager. Credit: PA

Mick McCarthy is the front-runner in the race to replace Martin O'Neill as Republic of Ireland manager after his five-year reign came to an abrupt close.

O'Neill, assistant Roy Keane and their staff parted company with the Football Association of Ireland on Wednesday after its chief executive John Delaney had held talks with the 66-year-old in London on Tuesday evening.

McCarthy, who took the Republic to the 2002 World Cup finals in the Far East during a previous spell in charge, represents an attractive proposition.

O'Neill, assistant Roy Keane and their staff parted company with the Football Association of Ireland Credit: PA

He has a proven track record, already has a relationship with the FAI hierarchy and, perhaps more importantly to a governing body still paying for the redevelopment of the Aviva Stadium, is available without the need to pay compensation after leaving Ipswich in April.

It is understood McCarthy is interested in the vacancy and would relish the opportunity to pick up the reins he surrendered in 2002 once again, although he has recently rejected approaches from two English clubs and remains in demand.

But, asked in 2016 if he could return to the Ireland job one day, he told the Irish Examiner: "If there's no manager in it and I'm out of work and someone asked me to do it, of course I'd do it."

McCarthy is by no means the only candidate, with Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers and Hibernian counterpart Neil Lennon having also been mentioned in dispatches, while Brighton boss Chris Hughton and Dundalk's Stephen Kenny would have popular support, although Hughton, in particular, appears more than content where he is.

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