Don’t go writing the Roy Bhoy headlines just yet

Martin O’Neill, the FAI and the Irish players are awaiting clarity on Roy Keane’s next move. Not to mention an Irish public whose fascination with the Cork man showing little sign of dimming.

First though, Keane needs definition and clarity on a next, and potentially career-shaping, managerial move.

Last Friday and through the weekend, the signals coming from Parkhead was that Keane was the next manager of Celtic, replacing Neil Lennon. The casual conversation between club and their target had all the signs of a 'soft appointment' announcement and when Keane failed to appear for his Friday press appointment with the Irish media, speculation became presumption. It was no longer if, but when, Keane would be appointed by Dermot Desmond and Peter Lawell.

Not so fast. None of this happens without Keane saying yes and signing the contract. Over the weekend, some things have emerged that have muddied the waters. One, Keane may lose 'his' keeper Fraser Forster to a Premier League side. Two, the nett transfer funds available from Celtic to reshape his squad are pittance in market terms, a couple of million, certainly no more than £5m according to well placed sources.

Keane is also acutely aware that the FAI gave him work at a time when his phone was hardly ringing off the hook with offers. And since the creditable draw against Italy in London on Saturday night, he has the demeanour and is speaking the language of a man who is preparing to assist Martin O'Neill and the Republic on their two-game tour to America this week. Clearly, if he travels Stateside, the chances of taking the job at a club preparing for what is, in effect, its most important engagement of the season - Champions League qualification - are minimal.

There is a third, very important element. A Premier League club (one that has had a strong Irish tinge in the past - no, not Man Utd!) is also keen on his services as assistant to the manager. And that club has no major issue with the possibility of Keane double-jobbing and staying in his role with the Republic of Ireland.

Logically, this appears Keane's best option, even if it isn't the most direct route back into front line management. Celtic offers him that, but if the Glasgow club don't make the group stages of the Champions League - and their squad isn't best equipped to negotiate the hurdles of the pre-qualifying lottery - it could be a long winter for Keane in Scotland.

On Friday, at least two well placed sources were advising me that the Keane to Celtic talks were coming to a positive conclusion. Now I'm not so sure. Even at that point I found it difficult to reconcile Keane leaving the Republic for the Celtic job, if only because the SPL couldn't realistically satisfy his competitive nature. Now with another offer in the pipeline, and O'Neill agreeable to the job-share arrangement with the unnamed PL club, that scenario may trump Paradise.

The timetable on this is tight. Indeed, one would anticipate clarify by close of play Monday. Keane is due to appear at a sell-out business engagement in London with O'Neill on Tuesday - a further manifestation of the commercial Midas the Cork man has become for the FAI. If he keeps that appointment and boards the flight to New York on Wednesday, his immediate future lies somewhere a bit south of Glasgow.

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