Stoke City: Martin O'Neill rejects chance to succeed Mark Hughes

Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane
Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane led the Republic into the Euro 2016 knockout stages but lost in the 2018 World Cup play-offs

Martin O'Neill has rejected the chance to become Stoke City's new manager.

The 65-year-old Republic of Ireland boss looked set to replace the sacked Mark Hughes but has now removed himself from the running.

His decision means Stoke have failed to land any of their top three targets.

Gary Rowett signed a new contract at Derby County to end Stoke's hopes of recruiting him, while former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores decided to remain with La Liga side Espanyol.

Stoke, who travel to Manchester United in a 20:00 GMT kick-off on Monday, are 18th in the Premier League table, one point from safety.

The club had hoped to have their new manager in place for the United game but O'Neill's decision appears to end any prospect of that happening.

The first-team coach Eddie Niedzwiecki has been in temporary charge since Hughes was sacked and it is understood the players have responded well to his training sessions.

Welshman Hughes had been in charge of Stoke for four and a half years but was fired following a run of six defeats in eight matches, culminating in defeat by fourth-tier Coventry City in the FA Cup.

The former Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers, Fulham and QPR boss succeeded Tony Pulis at Stoke in May 2013 and was the fourth longest-serving manager at a Premier League club.

He guided Stoke to three straight ninth-placed finishes, before dropping to 13th last season.

O'Neill and his assistant Roy Keane verbally agreed two-year contract extensions with the Football Association of Ireland in October and the expectation is that deals will be formally signed before the Uefa Nations League draw in Lausanne on 24 January.

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