• 'Martin will raise the decibel level' says Celtic manager
• Neil Lennon worked with O'Neill at Leicester and Parkhead
Neil Lennon has insisted his mentor Martin O'Neill is perfectly suited to the vacant Republic of Ireland managerial post and that the 61-year-old's playing career with Northern Ireland would be no bar to that role.
O'Neill, who has been out of work since being sacked by Sunderland in March, is the odds-on favourite to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni. O'Neill has stressed in recent days that he has received no contact from the Football Association of Ireland but that will surely change soon.
Lennon, who formed a close association with O'Neill when player and manager respectively at Leicester and Celtic, believes the FAI would be correct to make that move. "He would relate to the support, for a start," said the current Celtic manager of O'Neill. "Trapattoni did a brilliant job. To get to the Euros with the squad he had at his disposal was fantastic considering Ireland had been a little bit in the doldrums for a few years.
"There is a lot for Martin, if he does take the job, to work on. It could suit him in terms of his personal side of things and if there is a right age. He's very experienced and managing Ireland would mean a lot to him personally.
"What he will bring is a presence and charisma to the job. Trapattoni was full of that but Martin is Martin, he'll raise the decibel level in the place to concerted levels."
Lennon, from Lurgan, is all-too familiar with historic tensions associated with life and football in Northern Ireland. He retired from international football in 2002, having won 40 Northern Ireland caps, after a death threat was made towards the then-Celtic player before a meeting with Cyprus.
O'Neill played 64 times for Northern Ireland but Lennon does not believe that acts as a significant factor in this day and age. "I can't see it being a problem," Lennon said. "We are past that now. We should be past it and the majority of people will be very pleased to see him back in work."
Lennon hopes the next Ireland manager, whoever that may be, will turn his attentions towards Anthony Stokes. The Celtic striker was frozen out by Trapattoni after pulling out of the Ireland squad for an end‑of‑season friendly tournament in 2011.
"Stokesy has to learn from that experience," said Lennon. "You can't pick and choose your international games. You have got to show and you've got to want to show. He needs to be consistent for his club and I am sure he will get the call up. If he keeps playing the way he has done, then I am sure he will, because he's talented, he's got goals in him and he can play at a high level so it's up to him now."