Martin O’Neill indicates he wants to stay on as Ireland boss

Martin O'Neill has hinted he is ready to continue as Republic of Ireland manager whether he guides the nation to the 2018 World Cup finals or not.

The 65-year-old will send his side into Group D battle with Moldova in Dublin on Friday evening and then Wales in Cardiff three days later with their qualification hopes hanging in the balance.

However, O'Neill, who along with assistant Roy Keane and the rest of the staff, has been at the helm since November 2013, has indicated that he wants to sit down with Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney and thrash out a new deal which will also take in the Euro 2020 campaign.

Asked how much the next few days would have a bearing on his decision, O'Neill replied: "I think there's a willingness on both sides (to stay on).

"I had a conversation with John not so very long ago and John would like me to continue. I certainly would be looking forward to it.

"I don't think today is the day to discuss it, but I must admit that with some of the Euros games in Dublin, I think there are exciting times ahead.

"We've looked at the fact that there are some young players coming through - I say 'young players', I'm talking about mid-20s - who hopefully will take on the mantle of the older players when they drop out of the squad, so I think there is much to look forward to."

The O'Neill-Keane team guided Ireland to last summer's Euro 2016 finals via the play-offs and saw them perform creditably to reach the last 16 in France courtesy of a famous victory over Italy, in the process earning them a two-year extension.

Asked if he felt his near-four-year reign to date could be considered successful regardless of how the ongoing qualification bid pans out, the manager replied: "Well, we qualified for a competition - one out of one.

"I think the season tickets have gone from 4,000 when we started to 16,000, so I think there is some evidence that we're doing okay.

"We did qualify for the Euros, we're still in the mix for this one, so one out of one at the minute is not too bad."

Only victory over bottom-of-the-table Moldova will leave the Republic still in the mix and even then, they will need to win in Cardiff on Monday evening to ensure they are one of the best eight runners-up and therefore claim a play-off place.

The prospect of a winner-takes-all showdown with a Wales team lacking injured superstar Gareth Bale may be an enticing one, but it was one O'Neill simply would not allow himself to consider until the final whistle has sounded at the Aviva Stadium.

He said: "We have shown in the past great resilience, great courage to come and fight back from some adversity - that's what we have been very, very strong at - and tomorrow night, we will need all of that.

"But it's not about bringing things over to Cardiff. If we win the game, that will be enough confidence to take us to Cardiff regardless.

"This is it: we must win tomorrow night."

KEYWORDS: Martin O Neill


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