LONDON: Martin O’Neill is poised to return to footfball management with second-tier Nottingham Forest in place of departed Aitor Karanka.

O’Neill, 66, played 371 games and won the European Champions Cup with Forest in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He ended his five-year spell as Republic of Ireland boss last November. He will become Nottingham Forest’s 11th manager since June 2011.

Forest are ninth in the Championship, four points outside the play-off places.

The Forest job would be the Northern Irishman’s first return to club management since a mixed spell with Sunderland, which saw him guide the Black Cats away from relegation from the Premier League in his first season but then struggle the next season and being sacked in March 2013.

O’Neill was a member as a player of the Brian Clough side that rose from the second division to champions of Europe, playing in the 1980 European Cup final having missed out on a place in the team 12 months earlier when goalscorer Trevor Francis took his place.

As a manager, O’Neill guided Wycombe Wanderers into the English Football League, twice won the League Cup with Leicester City and led Celtic to three Scottish Premiership titles, three Scottish Cups and a League Cup – as well as the 2003 UEFA Cup final.

However, his experiences since coaching Aston Villa, who he guided to three consecutive sixth-place finishes in the Premier League, have failed to produce the same success.