Paul Lambert the new favourite as O’Neill rejects Stoke

Date published: Monday 15th January 2018 8:24

Martin O’Neill has become the latest manager to reject the chance to take charge at Stoke.

The Republic of Ireland boss looked set to move to the bet365 Stadium but has now removed himself from the running, Press Association Sport understands.

His decision leaves Stoke in limbo in their search to replace Mark Hughes after failing to land any of their top three targets.

They face Manchester United in the Premier League on Monday evening, and will have to now reassess their targets to fill the vacancy.

O’Neill, Quique Sanchez Flores and Gary Rowett had all been targeted by the Potters after they sacked Hughes last week.

Rowett signed a new contract at Derby, while Sanchez Flores opted to stay at Espanyol, despite holding talks with Stoke.

O’Neill’s decision leaves him clear to remain with Ireland, having made a verbal agreement to sign a new contract. It is believed he was not willing to renege on that accord.

The former Leicester and Celtic manager has been in charge of the country since 2013, but they failed to reach this year’s World Cup, losing in the play-offs to Denmark.

Stoke could make a short-term appointment until the end of the season as they decide their next move.

The Potters have slipped into the relegation zone after a run of just two wins in 12 Premier League matches and Hughes was sacked after a shock 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Sky Bet League Two Coventry.

Coach Eddie Niedzwiecki has been in temporary charge since Hughes’ departure, taking training ahead of Monday’s league trip to Manchester United, and will pick the team at Old Trafford.

He could give a debut to Austrian international Moritz Bauer after the right-back joined last week following Hughes’ dismissal.

Bauer, 25, told the club’s website: “It’s unbelievable – it would be a dream, like something from a movie.

“I have always wanted to challenge myself in the Premier League, just as every footballer in the world has. So to possibly step out in the league for Stoke City in a game against Manchester United is incredible – it is very exciting.

“Of course, nothing is certain and if I don’t play I will still be there giving all of my support to the rest of the lads.

“I am really looking forward to my time here, and hopefully we can get positive results very quickly – possibly even on Monday night.”

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