Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook an early frontrunner for Republic of Ireland vacancy

Paul Cook
Paul Cook

IEC could already be facing the first headache of their ownership of Wigan Athletic with Paul Cook having been installed as one of the frontrunners for the Republic of Ireland managerial vacancy.

Martin O’Neill left his post as Republic boss on Wednesday morning after a wretched recent run of results, and Cook being mentioned as a possible successor will be a worry for Latics fans.

It’s only a matter of days since new Latics executive chairman Darren Royle admitted IEC bosses had been worried about Cook being poached by a Premier League club, such was his standing on the game.

And they may have to underline exactly how much they value their manager if the FAI make a move in his direction.

Cook has strong Irish links, having taken his first significant steps in management at Sligo Rovers during a hugely-successful five-season stint between 2007 and 2012.

He guided the League of Ireland Premier Division club into European competition, as well as winning one League Cup and two FAI Cups, before returning to England to take over at Accrington Stanley, with whom he’d finished his playing career.

Cook was as low as 12/1 with some bookmakers, with Mick McCarthy the intriguing early odds-on favourite to return to the job he left in 2002 after six eventful years in charge.

The 59-year-old famously had a run-in at the 2002 World Cup finals with Roy Keane, who had been assisting outgoing boss O’Neill, but who has also vacated his position.

Stephen Kenny, currently in charge of Dundalk, was also at the front of the list, with former England managers Sam Allardyce and Sven-Goran Eriksson and ex-Latics boss Steve Bruce in and around Cook.

The FAI say they will “meet promptly to discuss the process of recruiting a new manager”.