Sarina Wiegman was “really happy” with the win while seeing room for improvement after England got a first Euro 2025 qualifying victory on the board by beating the Republic of Ireland 2-0 at the Aviva Stadium.

Four days on from being held 1-1 by Sweden at Wembley in their Group A3 opener, the reigning European champions went in front via Lauren James’ early finish and Alex Greenwood added an 18th-minute penalty before sending another against a post on the half-hour mark.

After the break Fran Kirby was thwarted by a fine Courtney Brosnan save, and Hannah Hampton – selected over Mary Earps in the England goal – then parried Caitlin Hayes’ header as the Republic applied late pressure to no avail in front of a crowd of 32,742.

Lionesses boss Wiegman, whose side are two points behind pool leaders France ahead of playing them in a double-header in their next fixtures on May 31 and June 4, said: “I think the first half we were totally dominating.

“We were 2-0 up but I think we should have been up more. I think at moments we should have been more tight on the ball, more secure to really create the big chance, and right before the chance sometimes we were a little bit sloppy, although I did think we played well.

“I think the second half, at moments we did good too but then they got momentum and we were struggling a little bit and they made it a real fight.

“We had to really fight in one-v-ones in the 18-yard box, and then for us of course it’s a lesson that if we win that ball we really want to keep it and play out of that press and then create our momentum again. That’s what we struggled with a bit.

“But I do think what we showed is we really as a team wanted to keep the (clean sheet), were able to fight also. That’s what we take with us for the next games, so I’m really happy with the win.

“We know they (France) are absolute top level so we have to be at our top level. We have to improve all the time, first of all because we want that, and second, because if we want to stay at the top, then it’s necessary to develop.”

Asked about her decision to select Hampton over Earps, Wiegman said: “They are two incredibly good goalkeepers, so that’s a really luxury position we’re in.

“Mary’s been really consistent with us but Hannah is also competing, has improved a lot, so I felt this was a game to give her the opportunity also to play, I have the trust she can do a good job.

“In the air (Hampton) was good, we know she’s good with her feet, some moments could have been better, but solid, and one save was important in the second half.

“Of course (Earps) was disappointed, because she wants to play and has been so good for us. We had that conversation and she then she just showed up and moved on.”

Five changes to Wiegman’s starting XI also included fit-again skipper Leah Williamson returning for her first appearance in just under a year, and she said of the defender: “I’m happy with her performance, she had to get through this moment.”

Lauren Hemp feels England are thriving under the pressure of entering their Euro 2025 qualifiers as first-time defending champions.

The Lionesses could only muster a 1-1 draw with Sweden to open their qualifying campaign on Friday night at Wembley, with the Republic of Ireland to come on Tuesday, then France to conclude the competition’s first window.

Friday marked the first meeting between England and Sweden since their semi-final at Euro 2022, when England triumphed 4-0 en route to the Wembley final and their first major tournament trophy.

Asked if having a bigger target on the Lionesses’ backs is to their benefit, Hemp replied: “Yes. It’s great for us. We are European champions, and we want to keep that, so it’s important for us to win as many games as possible and get ourselves back in and among it.

“It’s good to have people come up and be like, ‘Oh my God, we’ve got England’, that’s what we want to be. We want to be a hard-working team, hard to beat. I think it’s great having that.”

Friday’s stalemate was certainly a much more even encounter between World Cup runners-up England and last summer’s bronze medallists, with Peter Gerhardsson’s side at times looking like the stronger opponent, particularly towards the closing stages of the first half.

Alessia Russo nodded home a fine Lauren James delivery to put her side in front inside 24 minutes, but the Arsenal forward’s maiden Wembley goal was cancelled out by Fridolina Rolfo after the break and the Lionesses could not find a winner in a late-stage rally.

It might have even been worse for England, who breathed a sigh of relief when Arsenal’s Stina Blackstenius – fresh off scoring last Sunday’s League Cup winner – squandered a golden chance for Sweden to take the lead earlier in the half.

In a new-look format, the top two sides in each of the four top-tier groups will directly book places at next summer’s European finals in Switzerland, while the remainder will be entered into a play-off round with teams from lower divisions.

On paper, the Lionesses’ group might be the toughest they have ever encountered in qualifying, but Hemp added: “I think for me I find it quite exciting. I want to play in tough games. I think as a group we’re so confident at the moment that we’re ready to take on anyone. We saw the group and my first thought was, ‘bring it on’. I think we are all like that.”

Seamus Coleman is confident former team-mate John O’Shea has made a case for himself in the race to succeed Stephen Kenny as Republic of Ireland manager.

The 35-year-old Everton defender returned to the international stage after a year’s absence when interim boss O’Shea selected him in his squad for the friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland and then started him as captain in both games.

Coleman made his Ireland debut alongside O’Shea against Wales in February 2011 and the pair played together for their country until the former Manchester United man retired from international football in June 2018.

Asked about the vacancy and the 42-year-old’s chances of filling it after Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat by the Swiss, Coleman said: “I don’t want to sound like someone who’s played a couple of games for the manager and I am doing all I can to get him in, but being completely honest, the way he has conducted himself, how impressive he has been…

“My time will be up soon, but going forward for the future – so it’s not on a personal level – I think the way he’s carried himself, the work that he, [coaches] Paddy [McCarthy], Glenn [Whelan] have done behind the scenes has been really impressive, what he has done for his country, that respect he has from people instantly…

“I think he will be in the running. I have no idea, but why not be in the running for it? And I’d be delighted for him – but that’s above my pay grade.”

The search for Kenny’s replacement – he was relieved of his duties in November after a disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign – has extended to four months, although the Football Association of Ireland’s director of football Marc Canham has indicated that an announcement, which has been delayed by “existing contractual obligations”, will come in early April.

With leading candidate Lee Carsley, the European Championship-winning England Under-21s boss, having ruled himself out of the running, speculation has been rife as to the identity of the successful candidate.

Greece manager Gus Poyet, whose side lost their Euro 2024 play-off final clash with Georgia on penalties on Tuesday evening, is out of contract at the weekend and is the current favourite with the bookmakers, although O’Shea’s temporary tenure has been well received.

Asked about the interregnum and its impact on the players, Coleman said: “As captain, I care about the players and all the rest of that, but that’s not my job to figure out who the manager’s going to be.

“I am a player, I have always been a player, I don’t stand out of my zone. I have never been one to speak about people above me or anything like that, it’s not my job.

“Whoever it is will give their all for it. I think there’s a case for John, the way he’s carried himself, what he has done for the country. He has coached for a period of time now, the lads all really enjoyed it.

“Whoever that will be, we will find out soon and as always, we will have massive pride in representing our country and give our all for whoever will be in charge.”

John O’Shea insists he is “more than ready” for management despite his spell as interim Republic of Ireland boss ending in disappointment.

The former Manchester United and Ireland defender, placed in charge for this month’s friendly double-header against Belgium and Switzerland, saw his side go down 1-0 to the Swiss on Tuesday evening after Saturday’s 0-0 draw against the Belgians.

Football Association of Ireland chiefs have indicated they will name Stephen Kenny’s successor early next month with O’Shea having attracted popular support over the last week or so.

Asked what his instinct is on his own future, he said: “My instinct would be that I’m more than ready and capable to be a manager.”

O’Shea has vast experience of international football as a player – he was capped 118 times for Ireland – and has worked as a coach with both the Under-21s and the senior squad under Kenny as well as holding club roles with Reading, Stoke and Birmingham.

Asked if he would seek clarity from the FAI over his chances of being considered for the vacancy, the 42-year-old replied: “I think that’s something that we will obviously discuss later on.

“For me, the full focus was on the two games, enjoy the moment, learn from it and really understand it, learn about myself in terms of how I cope with the situation, with the games, and learn do I want to do it more.

“And look, the emphatic answer from me would be, yes. But where that is, let’s wait and see.

“As I’ve mentioned before, it’s only given me a taste for more, whether that be with Ireland or with club football or whatever the case may be.

“It’s something I’ve loved every minute of and I’ve been fully engrossed with it. It’s just annoying that we didn’t get a win in either of the two games.”

O’Shea’s second game at the helm proved more frustrating than the first as Ireland largely played second fiddle to a side ranked 43 places above them.

It was ultimately settled by Xherdan Shaqiri’s expertly-dispatched 23rd-minute free-kick, but Euro 2024-bound Switzerland were superior for much of the game – skipper Granit Xhaka rattled the post after pouncing on a first-half error by keeper Gavin Bazunu – and ran out deserved winners.

Ireland mounted a late fightback after struggling to create meaningful opportunities until the closing stages, but even then, lacked the precision to convert the pressure into genuine chances.

O’Shea said: “Look, like I spoke to the players about beforehand and beforehand against Belgium too, that’s the level you want to be competing at to qualify for major tournaments.

“Belgium and Switzerland qualify for major tournaments year after year after year, so you have to compete, you have to be clinical and we weren’t clinical enough in the two games.

“That’s something obviously we have to really nail down in terms of taking chances, making that decision in terms of controlling it, the right pass, the right time and being really clinical and getting back to winning games again.”

A piece of magic from Xherdan Shaqiri ensured John O’Shea’s reign as interim Republic of Ireland head coach ended in disappointment as Switzerland eased to a 1-0 friendly victory in Dublin.

The Chicago Fire midfielder’s sweet 23rd-minute free-kick proved the difference between the sides, but did not fully reflect the control the visitors exerted on a night when Ireland, ranked 43 places below the Swiss, were unable to build upon Saturday’s creditable draw with Belgium.

If the game did represent the second half of an audition for the vacant manager’s job for O’Shea after a groundswell of popular support – Roberto Di Matteo’s presence at the Aviva Stadium is understood to have been coincidental – it proved somewhat uncomfortable at times before a late flurry raised spirits.

Ireland have now won just one of their last eight games in all competitions – and that against Gibraltar – and while the victory was just a second in nine attempts for Switzerland, they have lost just once.

O’Shea made three changes to the side which drew 0-0 with the Belgians as Gavin Bazunu replaced Caoimhin Kelleher in goal, Mikey Johnston came in for the injured Chiedozie Ogbene and Jason Knight got the nod ahead of Will Smallbone in midfield.

Ireland set out on the front foot with Johnston pushing up alongside Evan Ferguson and Seamus Coleman and Robbie Brady attempting to support from the flanks.

However, it was the Swiss who created the game’s first opening with 10 minutes gone when Dan Ndoye cut inside Coleman from the left and unleashed a shot which was blocked by Nathan Collins and looped up to Silvan Widmer, whose header back across goal as Bazunu opted not to come for the ball was cleared by Andrew Omobamidele.

Debutant Vincent Sierro failed to trouble Bazunu from distance with a dipping 30-yard attempt as the visitors settled, but Coleman only just mistimed his run as he collected Sammie Szmodics’ fine reverse pass to get in behind for the first time, only to be pulled back by an offside flag.

But it was Murat Yakin’s side who took a 23rd-minute lead in some style when, after Dara O’Shea – much to his annoyance – had been penalised for a trip on Zeki Amdouni on the edge of the penalty area, former Stoke and Liverpool player Shaqiri stepped up to curl a superb left-footed free-kick around the defensive wall and beyond Bazunu’s dive.

Switzerland’s slick inter-play allowed them repeatedly to evade Ireland’s press and deny them possession for lengthy periods, in the process isolating frontman Ferguson.

Omobamidele headed straight at keeper Yvon Mvogo after O’Shea had helped Brady’s half-cleared 37th-minute free-kick back across goal, and Johnston headed wide from Knight’s inviting 42nd-minute cross.

However in the meantime, Switzerland skipper Granit Xhaka – winning his 123rd senior cap – had pounced on a scuffed Bazunu clearance and rattled the post from distance with the scrambling keeper wrong-footed to leave head coach O’Shea with food for thought.

Coleman and Knight attempted to inject a greater urgency as the second half got under way, but Switzerland soon eased their way back on top and Bazunu found himself having to deal with a long-range attempt from Michel Aebischer after Amdouni had prospered down the left.

Substitutes Matt Doherty and Adam Idah combined with 24 minutes remaining when the striker sent an overhead kick wide from the defender’s header back, and Ireland started to impose themselves in terms of possession as the game entered its final quarter.

However, they lacked the penetration and the precision – Idah smashed a shot just high and wide at the end of an enterprising 81st-minute run – to make it count as the visitors saw out time in relative comfort.

Leah Williamson is part of the England squad for next month’s Euro 2025 qualifiers against Sweden and the Republic of Ireland.

The Arsenal defender returned to the international fold in February for the first time in nine months having recovered from an anterior cruciate ligament injury, but subsequently had to withdraw before friendlies against Austria and Italy due to a hamstring issue.

Chelsea’s Fran Kirby is also back, having missed the games in February after pulling up in the pre-Austria warm-up with a knee problem, while club mate Millie Bright remains out injured.

Maya Le Tissier misses out, with fellow Manchester United defender Millie Turner retaining her spot after being a late call-up in February, replacing Williamson, and making her debut against Italy.

Euro 2022 winners England open their bid to qualify for next summer’s tournament in Switzerland by facing Sweden at Wembley a week on Friday before continuing their Group A3 matches against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin four days later. The pool also features France.

Boss Sarina Wiegman, who saw her side beat Austria 7-2 and Italy 5-1 in last month’s games, said in a statement from the Football Association: “There’s no time to waste.

“February’s window showed who we are and where we want to go and we’ll look to continue that momentum from the minute we arrive at St. George’s Park next week.

“We know it’s a challenging group, but it’s really exciting. These are all big games that will test us and that’s the kind of fixtures we want to play in.

“Every opponent we face is a top nation and we know we have to perform at our best to achieve our goals. We’ll be ready for Sweden at Wembley.

“Wembley has been the home of some of our biggest moments together and it holds such special memories. It’s no coincidence that we feel inspired when we play there. The fans have provided such fantastic support every time and there’s no doubt they can help us again against Sweden.”

Interim Republic of Ireland boss John O’Shea backed Evan Ferguson to end his goal drought after seeing the Brighton teenager miss a penalty during Saturday’s 0-0 friendly draw with Belgium.

The 19-year-old striker had a first-half spot-kick saved by Matz Sels at the Aviva Stadium to extend his run without a goal for either club or country to 21 games dating back to the end of November.

Asked about Ferguson’s barren spell, O’Shea said: “It’s one of those things. He’ll have another spell five, six years down the line of a couple of months without a goal. It happens with top strikers.

“As soon as he gets on the goal trail again, he’ll be back on a run again.”

Ferguson’s big moment came 24 minutes into the game when fellow teenager Arthur Vermeeren was adjudged to have handled.

However, Ferguson slipped as he approached the ball and Sels blocked his mishit attempt with his legs.

O’Shea said: “It was just unfortunate. Ev had a little slip just before he knocked it, so it would have put him off. But look, a youngster stepping up like that, it shows the courage he has and he didn’t let it affect him.

“He knocked into the centre-backs as soon as he could again, got his confidence going and it’s one of those things. He was unlucky with one – he got himself in a great position second half as well.”

O’Shea, taking charge of the first of two friendlies with Switzerland to come in Dublin on Tuesday evening, blended the old with the new as he recalled former team-mates Seamus Coleman and Robbie Brady and handed a debut to Blackburn striker Sammie Szmodics.

Unsurprisingly, he reverted largely to type, asking his team firstly to be difficult to beat after three and a half years of promise, but not results, under Stephen Kenny before he lost his job in November.

As Ireland had been throughout much of his 118-cap international career, O’Shea’s team were solid and threatened most through Ferguson’s physicality and Chiedozie Ogbene’s pace, although without finding a way past keeper Sels.

O’Shea said: “Look, it’s a frustrating one because you appreciate Belgium had a decent bit of possession, but we kind of felt beforehand that we didn’t mind that in a sense because we knew the damage we could create against them on the break.

“If you take those chances when they arrive in the game, that even opens up Belgium a little bit more for us and we can exploit that even more, so it’s a frustrating one in that sense.

“But look, you’re playing Belgium in Dublin, you’d take a clean sheet, but a little bit disappointed in the end too.”

Opposite number Domenico Tedesco was less than impressed by what he had seen.

Asked for his verdict, the Belgium boss said: “A more or less boring game, not a good one. I think from both sides low rhythm, many, many difficulties to build up the game, slow passes, no sharpness. This is my conclusion.

“At the end, it looked a little bit like a summer friendly game.”

Interim boss John O’Shea will send the Republic of Ireland into friendly battle with Belgium on Saturday after being placed in temporary charge of the team he represented with such distinction.

The former Ireland defender has stepped into the shoes vacated by Stephen Kenny in November for the clash with FIFA’s fourth-ranked team and Switzerland’s visit to the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the clash with the Belgians.

Who’s the boss?

Kenny’s departure in the wake of a desperately disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign left the Football Association of Ireland with a void to fill and, four months on, it remains unfilled. The FAI has promised an announcement in early April but, in the meantime, the 118-times-capped O’Shea has been handed an audition which could stand him in good stead for the future, if not this time around.

Headache number one

Southampton’s Gavin Bazunu established himself as Kenny’s first-choice goalkeeper after being thrown in at the deep end for a World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg in March 2021 at the age of 19. Of the 30 games Ireland have played since, Bazunu has started 20 and Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher 10, with 16 of the former’s appearances coming in 20 competitive fixtures. However, 25-year-old Kelleher, a two-time Carabao Cup winner, is currently playing his part in Liverpool’s Premier League title challenge as the injured Alisson Becker’s deputy to illustrate his quality and leave O’Shea with a decision to make.

Seamus it ever was

Seamus Coleman has not played for his country since March last year, but after working his way back from a knee injury he feared might end his career, is back in the squad and raring to go. At 35, the Everton full-back knows his days in the green shirt may be drawing to a close, but a man who has captained his country under successive managers remains committed to serving in whatever way he can.

Patience is a virtue

Sammie Szmodics will keep his fingers crossed as he edges ever close to a senior international debut. The 28-year-old Blackburn frontman has twice had to pull out of previous squads, but has returned in top form with 27 club goals to his name to date this season to eloquently stake his claim once again.

False dawn

Kenny ultimately left his post with his much re-vamped Ireland team having won just six of the 29 competitive games they played under his charge. However, there was a point when it looked as though his plans were starting to come to fruition, no more so than after a 2-2 friendly draw with Belgium in March 2022. Admittedly the Belgians, then ranked one in the world, were without some of their star men for the Football Association of Ireland centenary fixture, but the hosts gave as good as they got as goals from Chiedozie Ogbene and substitute Alan Browne cancelled out Michy Batshuayi’s opener and Hans Vanaken’s strike.

Lukaku who’s missing

Belgium boss Domenico Tedesco headed for Dublin without some of his biggest names, with Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne and Chelsea’s on-loan Roma striker Romelu Lukaku sidelined by injury. Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois is a long-term absentee as he recovers from a knee problem, while Thorgan Hazard and Yannick Carrasco are also missing.

John O’Shea will not allow the emotion of his journey from Under-15s player to Republic of Ireland manager to distract him as he prepares to guide his country into friendly battle with Belgium.

The 42-year-old former defender won 118 senior caps for Ireland during a distinguished playing career which brought him five Premier League titles, an FA Cup, three League Cups and a Champions League in his 12-year spell at Manchester United.

Having been placed in temporary charge of the national team as the Football Association of Ireland prepares to unveil Stephen Kenny’s successor early next month, O’Shea, who grew up as a footballer under the watchful eye of Sir Alex Ferguson, will head into Saturday’s clash with the Belgians concentrating only on the 90 minutes in front of him.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, he said: “It’s an incredible honour to be manager of your country, to get the chance to represent Ireland from U-15 onwards and all the levels, captain your country.

“The chance to be involved coaching with the Under-21s and the senior team and now being manager, it’s amazing, one that myself and my family are really proud of.

“When you first get the players together and chatting to them the first time as well, that’s the key part and sets the tone for the week ahead. That’s where I just kept it in my head very simple in terms of the staff that I brought in.

“I will be able to touch into those connections afterwards, as well in terms of the learnings from the two games and how you progress.

“That will be a big thing, too, but ultimately, I just want to focus on the staff, myself and the players and not be worried about too much outside noise.”

O’Shea, who worked with the senior team under Kenny after stepping up from the Under-21 ranks and will serve as head coach for Saturday’s game and Tuesday’s friendly against Switzerland, plans to inform the players of his team selection on Friday, and then take a low-key approach ahead of kick-off.

He said: “I’ve worked under many managers that have played at different levels, and it’s just a case of you’re trying to get a connection as soon as you can with the players to make them feel relaxed because, ultimately – as I’ve stressed before – they’re the key to everything.

“They’re the key to performing to winning matches and you just have to try and get that connection with the group. And whatever team is selected, they’re backing each other up no matter what.”

O’Shea could hand senior debuts to in-form Blackburn forward Sammie Szmodics, Lyon defender Jake O’Brien and Middlesbrough midfielder Finn Azaz, while Southampton defender Ryan Manning has joined up with the squad after recovering from injury.

He said: “The good thing is there are good players in form and it’s a nice problem to have in a good few positions.”

Belgium, who are ranked fourth in the world by FIFA, will be without injured superstars Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku as they defend an 11-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Seamus Coleman will return to Republic of Ireland action determined to make the most of the time he has left on the international stage after fearing his career could be over.

The 35-year-old Everton defender has not represented his country since doing a job on superstar Kylian Mbappe in a 1-0 Euro 2024 qualifying defeat by France in March last year as a result of a serious knee injury suffered at Leicester five weeks later.

However, he is in line to pull on the green shirt once again in Saturday’s friendly against Belgium and is keen to play his part after watching the last qualifying campaign unravel in his absence.

Coleman, who only returned to senior football after his medial ligament injury in December, told a press conference: “It’s always tough watching on and to see the team not doing so well is very tough.

“I’ve been there when I’ve been fit and a part of teams that aren’t doing well, so I know how it feels, it’s tough.

“It always hurts us when we play for our national team and it doesn’t go to plan, but, personally speaking, I was kind of tunnel vision towards getting fit.

“It was a bit of a scare the night of the Leicester game because I kind of thought that might have been it. It looked to be a bad injury, but thankfully I got away without it being an ACL, which was important at my age.

“At the time, I was just completely focused on getting back fit. Obviously I watch out for the lads and care for the lads when I’m not here, but I had full focus on trying to get back to play at this level.”

Coleman’s return coincides with the installation of former team-mate John O’Shea as interim head coach as the Football Association of Ireland prepares to unveil Stephen Kenny’s successor next month.

However, England Under-21 boss Lee Carsley has revealed it will not be him after confirming he held talks with the FAI following Kenny’s departure in November, but that the discussions went no further.

Carsley, who won 40 caps for Ireland and was understood to be the FAI’s preferred candidate after leading the Young Lions to European Championship glory last summer, told the Daily Mail: “We had an initial conversation in November. I went to speak to them. Really informal, enjoyable, for around an hour. It went no further.

“It was good to see what their thoughts were and to explore whether I was ready to take that next step. It just went no further. I didn’t push it.

“I’ve always said that I’m really privileged to do this job I’m in. I appreciate that I’m in a really good position with a lot of responsibility.”

Meanwhile, broadcaster Sky has been confirmed as the new primary partner of the Ireland men’s team, which had been without a main sponsor since 2019, and at the same time extended its two-and-a-half-year partnership with the women’s team.

The deal will run until 2028 and cover the nation’s involvement in the Women’s Euros in 2025, the 2026 World Cup, the 2027 Women’s World Cup and Euro 2028.

Roy Keane has indicated he could be interested in the vacant Republic of Ireland manager’s job as the search for Stephen Kenny’s successor continues.

Former Manchester United and Ireland skipper Keane served as Martin O’Neill’s number two during his five-year reign, and has admitted a return to the international set-up is something he might consider.

Asked about the vacancy on the Stick to Football YouTube show, the 52-year-old said: “International football, I enjoyed it when I was a coach.

“I liked the dynamics of it where you’re not in every day and it’s not about bringing players in and dealing with the board every week or the academy.

“Yeah, that does appeal.”

Keane is a man who continues to divide opinion in his native country, not only as a result of his premature return from the 2002 World Cup finals in the Far East after a bust-up with then manager Mick McCarthy, but also because of his forthright approach to management.

There is little doubt his return would be box office, just as his spell as O’Neill’s assistant was, but whether he is the man to rekindle Ireland’s on-field fortunes is a topic for debate.

The Football Association of Ireland opted not to hand Kenny a new contract following November’s friendly draw with New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium, which came in the wake of a disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

England Under-21s coach Lee Carsley, who won 40 caps for Ireland, has been high on the FAI’s list since they launched the recruitment process, with another experienced former international, Chris Hughton, among the favourites to replace Kenny.

Hughton was not available when the job came up, but he is now after being sacked by Ghana following their failure to make it to the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

It is understood the FAI hope to make an appointment before the Nations League draw in Paris on February 8.

Ireland are due to face Belgium and Switzerland in a friendly double-header in Dublin in March.

The Republic of Ireland will face Belgium and Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium in March.

The first of the two friendlies will see Belgium visit Dublin on March 23 for a 5pm kick-off, with Switzerland following three days later at 7.45pm.

Ireland last faced Belgium in a 2-2 draw in March last year, while Switzerland will play a match in Dublin for the first time since a 1-1 draw in September 2019 in a European Championship qualifier.

Ireland are currently without a manager after Stephen Kenny’s contract was not renewed following the end of a disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

They finished fourth in Group B, with their only points coming from two victories against Gibraltar.

Ireland will also play a friendly double-header in June, with the opposition to be announced at a later date, before the start of the Nations League in September.

The Republic of Ireland are looking for a new manager after Stephen Kenny’s ill-fated reign drew to a close on Wednesday.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the men who could come under consideration for the vacant post.

Lee Carsley

Former Derby and Everton midfielder Carsley has enjoyed significant success as England Under-21s boss, guiding his side to European Championship glory last summer. Birmingham-born, he won 40 senior caps for Ireland and, at 49, has a wealth of coaching experience with Coventry, Sheffield United, Brentford, Manchester City, Birmingham and England Under-20s.

Roy Keane

The former Republic skipper remains a divisive figure in his native country after his bust-up with McCarthy in Saipan ahead of the 2002 World Cup finals, and it is approaching 13 years since he last managed in his own right at Ipswich. The 52-year-old former Manchester United star served as Martin O’Neill’s number two during his five-year reign with Ireland and, while he still enjoys the kind of profile which makes him a major figure in football, his lack of recent work as a coach – he spent five months working under O’Neill at Nottingham Forest in 2019 – may not be in his favour.

Chris Hughton

Current Ghana boss Hughton, who won 53 caps for Ireland as a player, has vast experience as a manager, guiding Newcastle and Brighton into the Premier League either side of spells in charge at Birmingham and Norwich. The 64-year-old was less successful in his most recent domestic role at Nottingham Forest, but has been working on the international stage since February and would tick a lot of boxes.

Sam Allardyce

Allardyce, who began his managerial career in Ireland with Limerick, has track record reorganising and revitalising struggling teams and there is little doubt that he would make the Republic more difficult to beat as a first port of call. Now 69, he last worked at Leeds, where he was parachuted in for a brief, desperate and ultimately futile Premier League rescue mission at the end of last season.

Neil Lennon

Former Northern Ireland international Lennon has long been touted as a future Ireland manager after the success of his first spell at Celtic, during which he led the club to three successive Scottish Premiership successes, two Scottish Cup wins and the last 16 in the Champions League. However, his stock has fallen since his second incarnation at Celtic Park ended in disarray in February 2021 with the Bhoys trailing arch-rivals Rangers by 18 points.

Mick McCarthy

McCarthy’s disgruntlement at the succession plan which saw Kenny replace him ahead of a Euro 2020 play-off tie against Slovakia was only thinly disguised, and he was not alone at the time. The prospect of taking the job for a third time might prove attractive to the 64-year-old, who guided the nation to the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan, who has worked at Cardiff and Blackpool since his second international exit.

James McClean has backed the Republic of Ireland’s new generation to fulfil their potential after calling time on his international career.

The 34-year-old won his 103rd and last Ireland cap in Tuesday night’s 1-1 friendly draw with New Zealand and bade an emotional farewell to team-mates and fans alike after a 11 and a half years in the green shirt during which he played at the finals of two major tournaments.

McClean may not be the only man whose time in the international set-up has drawn to a close, with manager Stephen Kenny now out of contract and not expecting an extension after a disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, although the Wrexham defender is convinced the foundations he has put in place will pay dividends.

Speaking after the game, he said: “I’m going to call it how I see it. There is so much ability here. These lads are young – that’s not making excuses for them. International football is a whole different level.

“These will get better with experience and with that experience, I’ve no doubt that down the line, these lads will bring the glory days back – and when I say glory days, I mean qualifying for major tournaments.

“They just need to believe in themselves because the ability is there, it’s just getting that consistency and doing it every single game, and I’ve no doubt that will come with experience.”

McClean knows what it takes to qualify for tournaments having represented Ireland at both Euro 2012 and ast France 2016, too.

It was at the latter that the Republic secured one of their most significant victories, a 1-0 win over Italy in Lille which set up a last-16 clash with hosts France.

McClean said: “That night in Lille when we beat Italy was… I’ve said this before, I wish you could bottle that because if you could bottle that and sell it, you’d be laughing. Absolutely phenomenal.

“It’s been absolutely amazing. From the second I stepped on the pitch against the Czech Republic in 2012, the fans here in the stadium have been absolutely phenomenal, home and away.

“That was something again that was very special. I pride myself on how your nearest and dearest, your team-mates, view you as a person and tonight that showed how they viewed me.

“I’ve struck up some great relationships with the lads over the years and it’s something that I will miss, the camaraderie around the squad and going into battle with these lads.”

McClean announced his decision to step back from international football last month and had no regrets about doing so after his final appearance.

He said: “I think this is the right time to go. Not many people get to go out on their terms. I’ve had the absolute time of my life. I’ve achieved so much. Beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve had my time.

“The lads were saying tonight, ‘why didn’t you cry? I would have cried’. But I don’t see the need to cry because like I said, I had the time of my life. I’ve had so many happy memories and it’s been an absolute honour.”

Stephen Kenny has admitted he does not expect to continue as Republic of Ireland manager when his future is decided next week.

The 52-year-old’s current contract effectively ended with Tuesday night’s 1-1 friendly draw against New Zealand in Dublin and the Football Association of Ireland’s board will meet next week to decide whether to stick or twist.

Public support for Kenny’s tenure waned as the Euro 2024 qualification campaign he had built towards came and went without the success he craved, and he acknowledges that the writing is on the wall.

He said: “Obviously the board are meeting next week. They’ve a decision to make and I respect whatever that decision is.

“Of course, it would be a dream to carry on and manage the team, of course it would, but my instinct is that’s not going to happen. That’s my own instinct and the evidence suggests that probably won’t happen, so I respect that as well.”

Kenny, who replaced Mick McCarthy as manager in April 2020, has presided over huge change but ultimately has won only six of the 29 matches for which he has been in charge.

He insists he has enjoyed the experience and is keen to carry on, but he is philosophical about the situation in which he finds himself.

He said: “From my point of view, there’s no greater honour than to manage your country, it’s a huge privilege.

“It was an emotional dressing room with the players there. Ninety per cent of the players, maybe over 95 per cent of players, their careers are on an upward trajectory and they’re only going to improve as players and as individuals.

“It’s been a privilege in that regard, the greatest honour you can have. Whatever you did in life, it would be a step down, no matter what you did, but that’s the way it is.

“We have had a lot of setbacks and I suppose that’s why I’m not getting a new contract if that’s the case. International football is ruthless, that’s the nature of it. I know that, I understood that, but that’s the way it is.”


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On a night when he needed a resounding victory to support his claims of progress, he instead got more of the same, a tepid, toothless display in which a supposedly inferior side in terms of world rankings at times out-played his and might have considered themselves unfortunate not to be leaving with a win.


Adam Idah’s third senior international goal had given Ireland a first-half lead despite defender Nando Pijnaker’s justifiable protests that he had been fouled by Mark Sykes in the build-up, but they were unable to build upon it and Matt Garbett’s 59th-minute equaliser was little more than the All Whites deserved.

If Kenny left the Aviva Stadium with regrets over results, he had none over his radical approach to his dream job.

He said: “I’ve always been a big-picture person. Rather than to build something step by step, you have to see what the picture is and what you can achieve and what can be attained and then work towards that. That’s the way I see life.

“When you do that and you set the bar high, your fall can be acute. That’s the nature of how I’ve always managed, really. It leads you to incredible highs and setbacks. That’s the nature of how I see things.”

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