Robson still favourite as FAI travel to England

THE identity of the next Republic of Ireland manager will move a big step closer to being decided this week when the three men heading the FAI’s search fly to England to interview some of the leading candidates.

FAI president Milo Corcoran, along with treasurer John Delaney and Kevin Fahey, the acting general secretary and third man on the panel who will decide who succeeds Mick McCarthy, are due to conduct interviews with up to six contenders at a secret location, possibly in Manchester.

Former Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson is still among the favourites for the job, especially as he has a good relationship with Roy Keane and could persuade him to play for his country in the Euro 2004 qualifying double-header in Georgia and Albania in March and April.

Also expected to be seen is former Tranmere manager John Aldridge, who won 69 caps as a striker for the Republic in his playing days and scored 19 goals.

Another man believed to be back in the frame is Peter Reid, the former Sunderland manager.

His strength lies in the fact he may be able to take as his assistant Niall Quinn, who won 91 caps before retiring after the World Cup finals last summer and Ireland’s record goalscorer with 21.

The panel, who may stay in England for more than one day, are also believed to be seeing former defender Kevin Moran, who made it onto Brian Hamilton’s short list.

Moran has been linked with the job with Brian Kidd as his assistant, although Kidd is also in the running for the vacant post as assistant to England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.

If Kenny Dalglish is still interested in the post, he too could be interviewed by the panel who will fly in either tomorrow or Wednesday.

The other man in the running is Frenchman Phillipe Troussier, who is also set to fly in to meet up with the panel.

Those six candidates face competition from former Ireland technical director Brian Kerr, who has already been interviewed, and rumours suggest he would ask Tottenham first-team coach Chris Hughton to be his assistant.

Kerr, who now runs Ireland’s under-age teams, is highly respected in football circles and is familiar with the younger players in the current squad who have come through the ranks.

His failing, however, is that the panel may decide to go for someone with a higher profile, which would favour the likes of Robson or Troussier.

The FAI hope to have the process finished by the end of the week and will then make their decision.

They want the new man in place in time to take charge for next month’s friendly in Scotland and are likely to announce a press conference early next week to unveil the new man

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