ROY KEANE has “asked not to be considered” for the vacant managerial position at Scottish champions Celtic, the Echo understands.
The Republic of Ireland assistant manager has ruled himself out of the running to replace Neil Lennon, preferring to continue his work alongside Martin O’Neill.
Dermot Desmond, the Hoops majority shareholder, held talks with the former Manchester United skipper last week but it is understood the discussions did not get as far as a formal job offer.
A source close to the club told Press Association Sport: “Roy was not offered the job - no-one has been offered it yet.
“But he has ruled himself out and asked not to be considered for the position.”
Keane had emerged as the frontrunner for the position vacated by Lennon last week over the weekend.
But his departure from the scene now leaves former West Brom manager Steve Clarke as the man expected to land the job.
Sacked Cardiff boss Malky Mackay and Owen Coyle - who has been out of work since leaving Wigan last year - are also in the race to take the post.
Keane’s U-turn comes as something of a surprise after reports on Monday had suggested he was within 24 hours of taking the job.
O’Neill confirmed on Thursday evening that his 42-year-old number two had held informal talks with the Hoops, for whom he played briefly at the end of his career, after Desmond had made contact.
O’Neill said: ‘’I had a call the other day from Dermot Desmond wanting to speak to Roy if it was at all possible, and I mentioned it to Roy, of course.
‘’I am sure he was wanting to have a chat anyway because a club like Celtic might not come around too often.
‘’It was just a really informal chat, I think, but if you are asking me would I be really disappointed? Of course if Roy was to leave us.’’
However, Keane had earlier hinted it would be difficult for him to leave his current role with the Football Association of Ireland.
The ex-Sunderland and Ipswich boss - who now doubles his coaching duties with work as an ITV pundit - said on June 23: ‘’I’ve got a job - I’ve got two jobs - I can’t have another one. They are a brilliant club, an absolutely fantastic football club, one of the best in the world. But I have got a job.”
He added with a smile: ‘’I’m not taking a pay cut for anybody.’’
The FAI later released a short statement confirming Keane would be staying put.
It read: “The Football Association of Ireland today (June 2) confirmed that Roy Keane will travel with the Republic of Ireland squad to the US after he decided not to pursue the informal talks that took place with Celtic any further.”