Familiar Aston Villa, West Brom and Birmingham City face tipped for unexpected leap to international management

Ireland boss Stephen Kenny is under pressure after a disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with Steve Bruce tipped for the role.

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Former Birmingham City and Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce is set to make an unexpected return to management with the Ireland national team.

The 62-year-old, who has managed 11 clubs over his career and has been out of work since leaving a struggling West Brom last year, is tipped to take over the Ireland job from struggling Stephen Kenny.

Villain fans have a fairly recent history with Bruce after his Championship spell with the side between 2016 and 2018. For Birmingham City fans, it's been over 20 years since the manager first arrived to start a six-year spell between 2001 and 2007.

Ireland had hoped to put together a Euro 2024 qualifying campaign but saw those dreams crushed by four defeats in five Group B games to tricky opponents in France, Holland and Greece. The side's only victory so far came in a 3-0 victory over minnows Gibraltar in March.

Steve Bruce spent tine at Aston Villa and Birmingham City (Image: Getty Images)Steve Bruce spent tine at Aston Villa and Birmingham City (Image: Getty Images)
Steve Bruce spent tine at Aston Villa and Birmingham City (Image: Getty Images)

Bruce is the bookies' favourite to take on the role but other names rumoured to be in the running include England under-21 boss Lee Carsley along with Chris Hughton, Neil Lennon, Anthony Barry, Kieran McKenna and Roy Keane.

The Manchester United legend's most recent spell at West Brom began in February 2022 but lasted just eight months after a poor run of form saw the club struggle at the beginning of the 2022/23 season.

Before that, Bruce worked at Newcastle United for over two years. During that time, the Northumberland-born boss flirted with relegation but kept the club in the top flight until leaving with an £8 million pay-off shortly after the Saudi takeover, with Eddie Howe coming in.

Bruce, of course, also played for Birmingham City during his years as a pro, where he made 72 appearances and won the side's Player of the Season Award for 1997/98.

In 2016, while working at Hull City, Bruce confirmed that he had been interviewed for the England job and shared a desire to work in international management. He said: “I never quite made it as a player. Who wouldn’t [want it]? If you’re English and it means something to you, who wouldn’t? It has to be the prime job that any Englishman would want to have. Yes, it’s difficult. We know that but there’s something in you. I am highly flattered to be even considered and extremely grateful to be considered.

“In an interview, you never know. I hope it went OK. I got my point across and let’s hope it was successful. But then again I am up against a big pal of mine in Sam, who has always had a good job over the years.

“What I said to them in the interview has to remain there. But we have to take away the fear in tournaments, somehow. We have won only one of our last seven games in tournaments and we have got some good players... that has to be the main thing.”