Mick McCarthy believes Martin O'Neill "is nailed on" to replace Giovanni Trapattoni as the next Republic of Ireland manager, but has hinted that he would be tempted to return to his old job if asked by the Football Association of Ireland.
Former Republic of Ireland captain and manager McCarthy was believed to be the leading contender to replace Trapattoni when the veteran Italian's position was reviewed in October 2012, but he has since been appointed as Ipswich Town boss.
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McCarthy, who has been mentioned as the only rival to O'Neill in the race to succeed Trapattoni, confirmed he had a clause in his contract that would have allowed him to leave the Portman Road club without compensation being paid had the FAI offered him a chance to resume the role he filled between 1996 and 2002.
Yet that clause expired at the end of August and it seems as if McCarthy's ambitions to return to the Ireland job will have to wait, even though the 54-year-old conceded he would still be interested in replacing Trapattoni.
"Martin O'Neill is getting the job as far as I'm aware. That's totally nailed on, he's a shoo-in for it," said McCarthy. "He's ex-Celtic and is a damn good manager. My understanding is that he's got the job. Good luck to him, I'm delighted.
"Martin is out of work and he can walk straight into the job. I think he's perfect for them. I've been linked with it because of my success doing that job in the past. I've not courted it or fanned the flames at all. I'm not going to do that now.
"I was asked in here, when Giovanni was under pressure, do you fancy it? And I said 'yes I would at some stage', but I'm in a job and it's not the right time. I'm loving what I'm doing at Ipswich."
When pressed on whether he would walk away from Ipswich if the FAI were to offer him the job ahead of O'Neill, McCarthy refused to be drawn on the decision he would make.
"The process of elimination is, if Martin O’Neill did turn it down, which is not going to happen, then somebody should go to (Ipswich owner) Marcus Evans," he added. "Why am I going to pre-empt something? My understanding is Martin has got it. I’m not looking for it and I prefer to make my decisions when somebody asks me the actual question, not when a journalist asks me a hypothetical question. What would I do (if he was offered the Ireland job)? I haven’t got a bleeding clue."