FORMER SUNDERLAND defender John O’Shea will take charge of the Republic of Ireland’s March friendlies before the planned appointment of a permanent manager in early April.

O’Shea, who is third all-time on the Republic’s list of appearances with 118 caps, has been named interim head coach ahead of Belgium and Switzerland visiting Dublin late next month.

His appointment on a temporary basis gives the FAI more time to complete its search for a permanent successor to Stephen Kenny, who left the role in November.

O’Shea, who had a spell as an assistant coach for the Republic under Kenny and has most recently been working in a similar role at Birmingham, will be helped by Crystal Palace coach Paddy McCarthy.

“I’m delighted to return to the senior men’s coaching staff as interim head coach for the two international friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland,” said O'Shea, who played more than 250 games for Sunderland during his seven years on Wearside.

“It will be an incredible honour to lead the side into the March international window.

“As everyone will know, I’ve always had immense pride representing my country, whether that be during my playing career or very recently, as part of the coaching staff for the men’s senior team and the under-21s.

“It’s great that Paddy has agreed to come on board for the two matches and work will begin straight away to prepare for two top-quality fixtures against great opposition in Belgium and Switzerland, in front of our fantastic home support.

“I’ve got great belief in this group of players to win football matches and I’m looking forward to some positive results.”


Former Sunderland and Wales boss Chris Coleman and England Under-21s coach Lee Carsley have been among those linked with the vacant Republic post.

In announcing O’Shea’s interim appointment, FAI director of football Marc Canham said: “We are pleased to confirm that the process for the appointment of a new men’s head coach is near completion and we are looking forward to announcing that appointment in April.

“For now, the focus is on the upcoming matches against Belgium and Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium and supporting John and his team as they prepare for the games.”

Belgium visit Dublin on March 23 before Switzerland follow three days later.

On O’Shea’s appointment, Canham added: “John has developed a strong level of excellent coaching experience across both domestic and international football and has recently been involved at both Under-21 and senior level with Ireland alongside his considerable achievements as an international player and in his club career.

“John knows this group of players extremely well and with the support and expertise of Paddy, we believe this team are the right choice for the interim period.”