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Published: 14:09 | 12/1/16

O'Neill to hold contract talks

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is to hold talks with the FAI about extending his contract before the end of the month.

After guiding Ireland to next summer's Euro 2016 finals it was expected that O'Neill would sign a new deal with the FAI, but the former Celtic boss cast doubt over his future in December when he admitted he did not know if he would still be in charge at the start of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Since then he has spoken to FAI CEO John Delaney and he expects to sit down in the coming weeks to thrash out a deal.

"I saw John Delaney on Friday and he said that we would sit down over the next couple of weeks which we intend to do," O'Neill is quoted as saying in the Irish Sun.

Ireland are due to play Switzerland and Slovakia in March before taking on the Netherlands on May 27.

Although he has not ruled anything out, O'Neill feels the games in March will provide players with their last chance to fight their way into the squad for the finals in France.

"If there is a chance of anybody trying to come through, then maybe the March games are the ones. . . I don't want to close it off, but it might be very difficult, very difficult, if someone after March came through," he explained.

"There's a couple of players that have been on the periphery that have not had a chance, and could maybe have thought they should have had a chance - players like Alan Judge, for instance, who is doing very, very well - so I'd like to include them.

"I don't want to give out caps by a willy nilly basis, but by the same token here, there's one or two players who are doing very well and might just deserve that chance."

O'Neill is keen for players to get as many games under their belts as possible and has welcomed the news that Everton manager Roberto Martinez is prepared to let Darron Gibson and Aiden McGeady leave Goodison Park on loan to secure regular game time.

"It's important for players to think if they want to get involved they need to play games. I think Roberto wouldn't mind a couple of players going out, who have not been involved - like Aidan and Gibson too."

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