Martin O'Neill in talks with Stoke City

Martin O’Neill could be getting ready for a departure from the Ireland job even if Stoke City don’t offer him the reins

Kilbane said: "The criticism he received after that Denmark game, that's certainly got to play on his mind".

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

Stoke have had to rejig their managerial wanted list after Gary Rowett signed a new deal on Tuesday night to stay in charge at Derby until 2021 with former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores, now in charge of La Liga club Espanyol, emerging as the frontrunner for the Stoke job.

O'Neill met the Stoke hierarchy last night about taking over at a club sitting 18th in the Premier League.

He deems the club's traditional values to his liking, unlike several other Premier League outfits controlled by foreign ownership.

Hughes was just the second manager in the hotseat after Tony Pulis since Coates bought the club in 2005 for the second time and their reputation for displaying patience with managers was demonstrated by not firing the Welshman until Saturday's humiliating FA Cup Third Round defeat at fourth-tier Coventry City.

O'Neill has reportedly always been held in high regard by the bet365 stadium chiefs.

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Stoke want a new manager in place for Monday's Premier League clash against Manchester United.

Later this evening, O'Neill, along with his assistant Roy Keane, are due to attend the Soccer Writers' Awards in Dublin.

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.

Whether Sánchez Flores ultimately agrees to take over at Stoke remains to be seen, though reports from Spain indicate he is set to accept the offer of a five-year deal from Stoke, while it seems O'Neill is not content to wait around as the club's apparent fallback option.

He has also only made a verbal agreement with the FAI to extend his contract to the Euro 2020 campaign which means there would be no issue for the Potters in terms of compensation.

Still, the contract remained unsigned and there was a degree of pantomime to the recent assertion by FAI treasurer Eddie Murray that they expected O'Neill to rubberstamp the deal.

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