Roy Keane is on course for a sensational return to Irish football – as Martin O’Neill’s right hand man.

The man sent home from the World Cup by Mick McCarthy in 2002 is set to pip McCarthy to a role in the new Ireland management team.

McCarthy was keen on a return to the international team role but appears to have been beaten to the job by what some pundits are calling the ‘dream team’ of O’Neill as manager and Keane as his assistant.

The two former Nottingham Forest players work together for the British TV station ITV and are believed to be both friendly and compatible.

The Irish Times reports that an announcement concerning O’Neill and Keane’s appointment could be made as soon as Monday.

FAI chief executive John Delaney met with O’Neill in London this week for initial talks on the job of replacing Giovanni Trapattoni as manager.

O’Neill informed Delaney that he is finally keen on the job after weeks of speculation.

But he will only take the position – largely funded by entrepreneur Denis O’Brien if he can appoint Keane as his number two.

Keane, although personally keen on the top job, is prepared to work as O’Neill’s assistant.

And Delaney made it clear to O’Neill that his personal differences with Keane will not stop the Corkman becoming part of a new Ireland management team.

O’Neill and Keane could be in place to take charge of the Irish team for the friendly against Latvia in Dublin on Friday week and the visit to Poland four days later.