Espanyol boss Quique Sanchez Flores turns down move to Stoke City

Martin O'Neill

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

Following the sacking of Mark Hughes, Stoke targeted Derby's Gary Rowett as his replacement.

Ireland may have only friendlies scheduled until the Uefa Nations Cup kicks off in September, yet the financial risk of losing their Premier League status means the new manager's focus can not be distracted by extra-curricular activities.

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The Irish Independent report that former Sunderland and Hoops manager O'Neill was set to meet with Stoke top brass last night.

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

The Irish boss looks likeliest to take over due to the fact he has yet to sign a new contract with the Football Association of Ireland, although Flores is weighing up what is said to have been a persuasive offer from the Stoke delegation that met him.

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With that matter seemingly clarified, Stoke are also encouraged by the likelihood of O'Neill transporting his backroom team - including assistant boss Roy Keane - to Staffordshire.

O'Neill and Keane have worked together for Ireland since 2013 but did not manage to secure a spot at this summer's World Cup. This is consistent with reports close to O'Neill after the 5-1 defeat to Denmark, which claimed that Keane may choose to stick by O'Neill's side should the Derryman land another club management gig. It appears that O'Neill, whilst having agreed a contract with the FAI was still open to offers from others.

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