Vera Pauw will go to World Cup with future undecided as Stephen Kenny told Euro 2024 play-off will not be deal killer

VERA PAUW will go to the World Cup with her future undecided — and Stephen Kenny has been told a Euro 2024 play-off will not be a contract killer.

The FAI yesterday confirmed that Ireland Under-21 boss Jim Crawford has agreed a new deal to remain in charge for the next campaign.

Manager Vera Pauw will head to the World Cup with her uncertain future

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Manager Vera Pauw will head to the World Cup with her uncertain future
Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny y has been told a Euro 2024 play-off will not be a contract killer

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Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny y has been told a Euro 2024 play-off will not be a contract killer

But the futures of the two senior managers — Kenny and Pauw — are not on the agenda for the Association’s board.

REAL PAUW

Women’s boss Pauw’s is of greater concern as her current deal ends after the finals, though she has repeatedly said she is happy to put off talks as she focuses on this summer’s tournament.

And FAI CEO Jonathan Hill confirmed that there will be no formal talks about an extension before the Girls in Green travel to Australia.

He said: “While Vera and I speak on a regular basis, we haven’t talked about her future beyond her current contract.

“Myself and Vera will sit and chat generally about it.

“At the moment, she knows contactually what the position is.

“She and I both want her to concentrate as much as possible on the upcoming tournament.

“And, genuinely, we’ve given just about everything she’s asked for, and wants and needs, in terms of infrastructure and people, preparation.

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“That’s what Vera is completely concentrating on, and I think that’s right.”

Kenny’s deal is for Euro 2024 — but Ireland have been dealt a horror draw with two qualifying out of a group that contains France, the Netherlands, Greece and Gibraltar.

If the men’s team fail to qualify automatically, they could go into a play-off which is based on results in last year’s Nations League — though that will not be known until after the group campaign.

The play-off probability seems high — it would require 19 teams ranked higher than Ireland’s 26th to qualify automatically.

There has been speculation over whether Kenny would be retained if this year’s campaign goes awry, particularly as one of his biggest supporters, Roy Barrett, plans to leave the FAI board.

But CEO Hill insisted that the FAI’s view is the play-offs are part of the campaign.

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STEPHEN KENNY

He said: “Stephen has a contract until the end of the Euro 2024 qualification campaign, whenever that point may be reached. The play-offs are part of that.

“My view is that Stephen and his team are at the start of what’s going to be an incredibly challenging but also incredibly exciting year in relation to our men’s senior team.

“As with Vera, we should be giving Stephen all the support we can do to make sure he’s ready and prepared as he can be for the France game.

“God willing, he won’t have any injuries and he’ll announce an exciting squad for an exciting game.”

CRAWFORD EXTENSIONS

Meanwhile, the Association has confirmed that Crawford has agreed an extension to remain in charge of the Under-21s.

SunSport revealed in September following the team’s heartbreaking penalty shootout loss in a Uefa finals play-off with Israel that the deal was close to being agreed.

And the FAI has now confirmed the extension, with his assistants Alan Reynolds and John O’Shea both also agreeing deals for the upcoming campaign.

Crawford said: “To be head coach of the Under-21s team is a huge privilege, so to renew my contract is something I’m very proud and excited about.

“It gives me and my staff a further campaign to help develop the next generation of players and ready them for senior international football. This represents success for us with the view that development leads us to a European Championship.

“Work is already underway for the next campaign and we look forward to the draw for the Under-21 qualifiers in February.”

Hill added: “We are delighted to extend Jim’s contract after an excellent Under-21 campaign where he and the team achieved so much.

“We are also very happy that we are able to extend Alan and John’s positions with the Association and to keep the team together.

“In Jim, we feel we have a talented and experienced Under-21s head coach who will continue to nurture the talents of our young players to reach senior international levels.”

Director of football Marc Canham added: “Jim has an excellent track record of developing players for the future and it is great news to have him, Alan and John extend their contracts with the Association.

“The Under-21s’ success on the pitch last season, added to the number of players who were promoted from that level to the senior team, shows the right platform is being created to transition players to the elite level of the game both domestically and on the international stage.”

Crawford was named Under-21 manager in 2020 when he succeeded Kenny, having worked under him with the team at the beginning of that campaign.

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The former Bohemians, Newcastle United and Shelbourne star saw that side go close to reaching the 2021 European finals but a loss against Iceland knocked them out.

But he then had a full campaign for the 2023 qualifiers as his side — at an age group that has historically underachieved — reached the play-off against Israel only to lose out on penalties.

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