Martin O’Neill has admitted he would be open to extending his contract as Republic of Ireland manager.
The 63-year-old is understood to have been offered an extension to the two-year deal he signed in November 2013 regardless of whether he steers the nation to the Euro 2016 finals via a play-off double-header against Bosnia-Herzegovina over the next few days.
O’Neill confirmed the Football Association of Ireland wanted him to stay, and that he was happy to talk to chief executive John Delaney about it.
He said: “Absolutely, I am open to it. We had a conversation after Scotland and John was very supportive, felt as if this is the way we want to go forward, and that was very pleasing to hear.
“We haven’t really talked about it since, but I haven’t been pressing because there are actually very important things to deal with. “If we could qualify, that would be great – I would be delighted to do that if that’s the case. But if we didn’t qualify, John and myself will sit down and see where we go.
“I think John and the board would want it to continue and I have enjoyed it immensely. Sometime in the new year – probably the earlier, the better – John and I would sit and have a discussion.”
Skipper Robbie Keane insisted it would be “silly” for O’Neill’s services not to be retained, with he and assistant Roy Keane having overseen a campaign which could yet pay tangible dividends for the efforts over the last two years.
The LA Galaxy striker said: “From the very start of the campaign, as a group we have grown into it a lot more. It would be silly if the manager didn’t get a new contract – he has obviously done a great job.
“But we certainly want to finish this campaign off now with qualification for France, because we started the campaign off having that goal in our minds and it would certainly be disappointing if we didn’t do it.”
The Republic face Bosnia-Herzegovina in Zenica on Friday night and then again in Dublin three days later.
Having re-kindled their qualification hopes with a shock victory over world champions Germany, defeat in Poland saw an automatic berth snatched from their grasp.
O’Neill believes progress has been made, but knows there is work to be done with Shay Given, John O’Shea and Keane approaching the end of their international careers.
He said: “There is a set of players here well into their thirties who need replacing but we want to replace them with really top-quality younger players.”
Hungary travel to Oslo tonight to take on Norway in one of the other play-off ties, kicking off at 23:45.
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