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Working with O'Neill will be a 'learning curve' for Keane, says Houghton

The former Liverpool and Aston Villa midfielder believes that the Cork native stands to gain a lot from working as Martin O'Neill's assistant manager

Former Republic of Ireland international Ray Houghton believes that working with Martin O'Neill will be a "good learning curve" for Roy Keane.

Former Manchester United captain Keane, 42, has been appointed as assistant manager to new Ireland boss O'Neill and the duo will be in place for the forthcoming friendly game against Latvia on November 15.

Speaking on ITV ahead of the Uefa Champions League clash between Manchester United and Real Sociedad, O'Neill confirmed that Keane was coming with him and said that the Cork native would be "great" for him.

"Personally speaking I think he'll be great for me but more importantly he'll be great for the Republic of Ireland," said the 61-year-old.

And Houghton believes that Keane will similarly benefit from working with the former Celtic and Aston Villa boss as his assistant.

"[Keane's] enthusiasm, his knowledge, what he thought the Irish team could do was hugely surprising to me. He was very, very good," Houghton told Sky Sports.

"He knows what he wants, where he wants to take them alongside Martin. He knows his position - Martin will be the manager; Roy will assist Martin. So there's no grey area there. It's not like Roy's going to be on a level term.

"Martin will be the number one and Roy will do everything in his power to help him. It could be a good learning curve for Roy."

Meanwhile Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has denied that the appointment of Martin O'Neill will have an affect on the Irish Football Association (IFA) in terms of players choosing to declare for the Republic of Ireland.

"I don't think it will be an issue at all to be honest," O'Neill told reporters. "It is not so much the manager, rather it is the [Football Association of Ireland] which has taken the stance and the Republic have exploited the opportunity to select our players."

He added: "We have to remain focused on ourselves and on building a pathway for our young players to get the opportunity in the professional game.

"I know most of our young age-group footballers by name and have worked on the training pitch with them and hopefully that is a help."

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