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Conte faces difficult balancing act

Chelsea
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By ESPN Staff

Ireland hope to appoint a new manager shortly

The trio charged with recruiting Steve Staunton's successor as Republic of Ireland boss have made 'positive engagement with a significant number of candidates', according to the Football Association of Ireland.

The governing body last night insisted they are confident a new national team manager will be appointed 'in the near future' after meeting with Don Givens, one of a three-man recruitment panel.

The FAI last night spoke to Under-21 boss Givens - who along with Don Howe and Ray Houghton will recommend a suitable candidate - for the first time since the selection panel was appointed.

And a statement on the association's website, FAI.ie, read: 'Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Don Howe and Ray Houghton, Don Givens gave the 10 board members an outline of the process to date.

'This was the first report to the board since the selection panel was appointed and mandated.

'The board is satisfied that significant progress has been made but understands that more time is required before the panel return with a recommendation.

'The board accepted that there had been positive engagement with a significant number of candidates.

'The board is confident that the search for a new manager for the Republic of Ireland senior team will be concluded in the near future.'

Former Republic defender David O'Leary reportedly turned down an interview for the job last week.

Other names linked with the role include Terry Venables, ex-Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez, former midfielder Liam Brady, Graeme Souness and one-time incumbent Mick McCarthy.

Whoever gets the job will have to plan a future without full-back Steve Finnan, who has announced his retirement from international football.

The 31-year-old Liverpool player told his club's official website that it was 'the right time for me to step down'.

Finnan made his debut against Greece in April 2000 and went on to make 50 appearances for his country.

He said: 'I've thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Republic team, with the World Cup in 2002 being the highlight of my international career.

'But I'll be 34 when the next tournament comes around so it's the right time for me to step down.

'There will be a new manager coming in soon who will have his own ideas for the future with younger players having the chance to stake their claim to be in his plans.'