Martin O'Neill in talks with Stoke City

Martin O'Neill

Martin O'Neill

Stoke have endured further disappointment in their search for a new manager after Martin O'Neill walked away from negotiations over the role.

O'Neill - and the FAI - still have some awkward questions to answer however.

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

The club hope to have Mark Hughes' replacement in the dugout by next weekend, but whether that turns out to be O'Neill remains to be seen.

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Ireland's next game is a March friendly in Turkey.

Stoke, who are third from bottom of the table, have worked tirelessly over the last 72 hours to try persuade the 65-year-old to end his four-year reign as the Republic of Ireland manager and appeared to have secured chairman Peter Coates' first-choice target.

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.

"Here I have all I need".

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O'Neill's decision leaves him clear to remain with Ireland, having made a verbal agreement to sign a new contract.

"I know it's a few weeks after Christmas, but it was pantomime stuff from the FAI last week, it belonged on the stage".

Still, the contract remained unsigned and there was a degree of pantomime to the recent assertion by FAI treasurer Eddie Murray that they expected O'Neill to rubberstamp the deal.

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