Martin O'Neill says Roy Keane is 'a great fit' for Sunderland 11 months ago

Martin O'Neill says Roy Keane is 'a great fit' for Sunderland

"I would really want to play for him."

Martin O'Neill has backed Roy Keane to take over as Sunderland manager. Keane was O'Neill's assistant at the Republic of Ireland and Nottingham Forest.

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He believes that the Cork-native is a 'great fit' for the Black Cats.

Roy Keane Martin O'Neill

Martin O'Neill backs Roy Keane to take over at Sunderland.

O'Neill speaks glowingly about Keane after six years of working side-by-side. He says his former assistant would be successful returning to his old club, where he managed between 2006 and 2008.

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The former Celtic and Sunderland boss, says the ex-Manchester United captain retains respect from the players. And, players should accept criticism from Keane, as it will mean more when he praises them.

"It’s a great fit because Roy had success there before. It’s splendid news," O'Neill told The Times.

"From my experiences working with Roy, I would really want to play for him.

"And I would readily accept any tough times and hard words for what the praise would mean if I did something terrific to please him."

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Roy Keane Martin O'Neill

Roy Keane linked with Sunderland return.

The Corkman has been strongly linked with a return to Sunderland and he reportedly held talks with their owner and sporting director on Friday.

Keane managed Sunderland between 2006 and 2008, overseeing their promotion to the Premier League.

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Following his spell with The Black Cats, he took over at Ipswich Town in 2009, but was dismissed in 2011. Keane has not managed a club since.

O'Neill and Keane.

Keane and O'Neill helped Ireland reach the last 16 of Euro 2016, which saw them beat Italy to reach the knockout stages and Germany in the qualification campaign.

The pair remain in contact and O'Neill, who managed Sunderland between 2011 and 2013, said that Keane retains fond memories of their time working together.

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 “Roy said qualification for the Euros and the time in France and the night against Italy [winning with an 85th-minute goal to qualify for the knockout stage] were up with anything he did as a player," O'Neill said.

"He has said it too many times for me not to believe him."