No comment - O'Neill silent on Stoke speculation

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The 65-year-old is understood to have met with Stoke City earlier in the week after reports emerged of the Premier League side's interest in him. The northerner was widely reported this week to have held talks about the position although he has not commented publicly on the story to confirm or deny it but it is possible that he has he has either been informed that Flores will be appointed or has ruled himself out after learning that he was regarded as the club's fall-back plan. "I want to continue being happy with my profession".

"Right now we're not thinking about anything other than today's game and Sunday's match against Athletic (Bilbao)".

The Irish Independent report that former Sunderland and Hoops manager O'Neill was set to meet with Stoke top brass last night. Rowett, however, responded to speculation by emphatically ending it - he signed a new contract with Derby County.

Flores' one season in English football to date saw him guide Watford to a 13th-placed Premier League finish in 2015-16, with the Hornets also reaching the FA Cup semi-finals.

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O'Neill only has a verbal agreement in place with the FAI to remain in charge of the worldwide team and it seems that Potters officials have identified the former Leicester City boss as their number one candidate.

For their part, the FAI are now less confident than they had been about keeping O'Neill, having only verbally agreed a new deal at the end of the country's 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.

Since the departure of Hughes and his assistant Mark Bowen, first-team coach Eddie Niedzwiecki has been in temporary charge at Stoke, taking training ahead of Monday's league clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Niedzwiecki has been assisted by under-18s boss Kevin Russell, who faced the media at a press conference on Thursday afternoon. It was a matter of picking them up on Monday a little bit - there are players who were hurting, and rightly so. "They will be a lucky manager".

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