Martin O'Neil
Keane backs O'Neil for the Republic of Ireland job. (Reuters)

Former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane has distanced himself from reports linking him with the vacant Republic of Ireland job and has backed Martin O'Neil for the role.

The FAI have named under-21 manager Noel King as their interim manager as they carefully consider their next appointment following the departure of Giovanni Trapattoni, who left his post after consecutive World Cup qualifying defeats that effectively ended Ireland's hopes of travelling to Brazil next summer.

Following the Italian's exit, former Aston Villa and Sunderland manager O'Neil has become the clear favourite for the vacant role, ahead of the likes of Mick McCarthy, Chris Hughton and former Sunderland boss himself Keane.

And the former United captain, who won 76 caps for his country believes O'Neil is the best man for the job.

"I know a little bit about Martin O'Neil and I think Martin would be a very, very good choice," Keane said, Sky Sports report.

"I think the FAI have done the right thing in stepping back, taking their time and seeing what is out there. A lot of managers have been linked with it. A lot of good managers.

Despite the unsavoury end to his playing career for his country came to during the 2002 World Cup, Keane's name remains in the frame for the manager's job. The TV pundit has been out of management since being sacked by Ipswich Town in 2011 and has played down the possibility of taking the reins.

"I haven't been contacted by anyone," Keane continued. "I have not thought about it too much to be honest with you. I have more important things to be worried about that."

Ireland have two more World Cup qualifiers remaining against Germany and Kazakhstan but the FAI having left first team matters for the games in the hands of the experienced King, having opted for a more calculated approach in selecting a replacement for Trapattoni.

The 74-year-old Italian led the country to qualification for Euro 2012, but his reign concluded in the nation to falling to 59th place in the Fifa rankings, their lowest ever position.