MARTIN O’NEILL and Roy Keane will meet their Ireland squad for the first time tonight ahead of the team’s first training session under the new regime tomorrow morning.
The new managerial pairing were officially unveiled in Dublin on Saturday, although Keane did not attend an FAI press conference instead taking in the Premier League clash of Aston Villa Vs Cardiff in Birmingham.
The only Irish player on show in that game, defender Ciaran Clark, has since wwithdrawn from Ireland’s 27-man party ahead of Friday’s home clash with Latvia with a foot tendon injury
Hull midfielder Robbie Brady will also not be among the squad due to a groin injury.
Speaking in Dublin on Saturday, O’Neill insisted that it will be only who will be calling the shots in his Ireland partnership with Keane.
The 61-year-old Co Derry man expressed his delight over the weekend in having recruited Keane as his number two and added that he is confident the former Ireland captain has much to offer.
O’Neill said: “I don’t really want to change Roy Keane. I don’t think that was the intention, otherwise it loses its impetus.
“Of course there are things we want to adjust and look at, but I have had an assistant manager in John Robertson for years and years at all the clubs I have been involved in, or most of them, and John was very, very good.
“John was more than a sounding board, more than that. I listened to his opinion – he had a very good opinion about football, he was a good judge of a player as well.
“But ultimately, he always left the decisions to me and that was the main thing. That’s something that I have been used to now for 20 years and I wouldn’t be expecting anybody to be over-ruling me.
“That’s not the big ‘I am’, far from it. I have got great respect for Roy Keane, otherwise I wouldn’t have asked him to do the job.”
O’Neill added that he believes Keane’ “volatility” can be a good thing for Ireland
He said: “I think he will be brilliant for the Republic of Ireland and I will want him basically the way he is.
“I have found him very, very engaging and his thirst for knowledge amazing.
“A little bit of volatility will do no-one any harm. And Roy as well.”
Martin O’Neill’s managerial record
1993-1994 – Guides Wycombe Wanderers to back-to-back promotion
1995 – Quits as Norwich City boss after five months
1997 – 2000 – Wins the League Cup with Leicester City
2000-2001 Wins the domestic treble in his first season in charge of Celtic
2003 Guides Celtic to Uefa Cup final
2010 Takes Aston Villa to League Cup final, losing to Manchester United
2013 Sacked as Sunderland manager in March after failing to win any of his last eight games in charge