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John O’Shea focusing on Switzerland game amid speculation over Ireland future

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 25 Mar 2024

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John O’Shea is thinking no further ahead than Tuesday night’s friendly against Switzerland amid speculation he could become permanent Republic of Ireland manager after all.

The Football Association of Ireland’s director of football Marc Canham revealed last month as O’Shea was placed in interim charge that Stephen Kenny’s successor would be named in early April, and that an announcement had been delayed by “existing contractual obligations”.

That appeared to rule O’Shea out of the running – something leading candidate Lee Carsley has himself done since – although the way he has conducted himself during his temporary spell at the helm and the response of his players in Saturday’s 0-0 friendly draw with Belgium have prompted suggestions that he could do the job on a longer-term basis.

However, asked about the speculation ahead of the clash with the Swiss, the 42-year-old former Manchester United and Ireland defender told a press conference: “My remit was to focus on these two games.

“If my remit beforehand was ‘John, you’re the full-time new manager’, it might have been a different situation. The focus for me was ‘these two games, John, look after these games and see what happens then’.

“I am focusing on the last game against Switzerland. My focus has been on that right from the start when this process started.

“Two games, I am focused on that, get the best from the boys, bring this group together with the staff, getting the lads to know my staff as quickly as possible, and getting the bond together quickly, going into two games where you know you’ll face challenges, but two games where you know you can get good results too.”

O’Shea, who won 118 caps for his country during a distinguished playing career, has enhanced his reputation as a coach – he has had spells with Reading, Stoke and Birmingham as well as Ireland’s Under-21s and the senior team under Kenny – over the last week or so.

As things stand, he will be out of work again on Wednesday morning having left his most recent post at St Andrew’s in January following former team-mate Wayne Rooney’s departure as manager, and will be back on the market.

He said: “Let’s wait and see. Hopefully there will be a few things happening.

“But hopefully I will be going back for Easter holidays with my kids, so we’ll do something with them, get back into the swing of things with them and hopefully go to watch games and have a few conversations here and there.”

In the meantime, O’Shea will concentrate of the task of putting together a team to compete with Switzerland, ranked 19th by FIFA to Ireland’s 62nd.

That could mean a start for Southampton keeper Gavin Bazunu after Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher got the nod on Saturday evening, while Lyon defender Jake O’Brien and Middlesbrough midfielder Finn Azaz, as well as Under-21s graduates Joe Hodge and Andy Moran, will hope for debuts.

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