Keane may return to United on Monday as Stoke assistant

In charge Martin O’Neill’s talks with Stoke City have changed the dynamic of his relationship with his employers the FAI

There is still the possibility it could be a short-term deal, however, since they are also interested in former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores.

"It's like being engaged - you shouldn't be going out with other people".

Stoke native Coates is a self-made billionaire, restricting his board to just four colleagues, including his son John and Stoke and England legend Gordon Banks, and has opted against following the modern model of appointing a director of football to oversee transfer activity.

O'Neill is now out of contract with Ireland, meaning that neither Stoke nor the manager himself had to inform the association of discussions.

The former Leicester, Aston Villa and Sunderland manager verbally agreed a two-year contract extension with the FAI before their World Cup play-off defeat by Denmark in November, but has yet to sign it.

The Irish Independent does, however, speculate that, should the package at Stoke fail to find room for Keane, he will remain with the FAI and another of the Irish backroom staff - Steves Guppy, Walford or Seamus McDonagh - will join O'Neill.

If O'Neill had taken the job, he would have been free to walk away without the FAI reeceiving any compensation.

He told RTE Radio 1: "It's embarrassing for the FAI".

O'Neill's decision in 2016 to delay by five months the signing of his new contract suggested the Derry man had a penchant for working to his pace but this latest prevarication always carried the threat of blowing up in the face of his employers.

The FAI insisted that yesterday was no different to any other day, and that O'Neill would be flying to the UEFA Nations League draw later this month as Irish manager.

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