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Baraclough will be big hit as Under-21s boss: O'Neill

 

By Graham Luney

Michael O'Neill has backed Ian Baraclough to make a big impact as the new Northern Ireland Under-21 manager.

Former Motherwell and Sligo boss Baraclough beat off competition from candidates including Warren Feeney and Johnny McKinstry to land the role.

O'Neill said Baraclough would be a "great addition to our international coaching team".

The Northern Ireland boss added: "We were looking for a candidate with good coaching and management experience and Ian certainly fits the bill given his previous roles as both a manager and assistant manager."

The 46-year-old takes over from Jim Magilton, who remains the Irish Football Association's elite performance director.

The new Under-21 manager moves into the post after leaving his role as assistant to Oldham boss John Sheridan.

"I am looking forward to working with young players in Northern Ireland," said Baraclough. "I will be aiming to help the team be successful in qualifying and also to help develop future senior internationals."

While at Sligo, Baraclough guided the Irish club to the League of Ireland title plus FAI Cup and Setanta Cup triumphs.

After being appointed Motherwell manager, he kept the club in the Scottish Premier League and was then handed the Oldham assistant's role after departing the SPL outfit.

Baraclough's Under-21 side have been drawn with Albania, Estonia, Iceland, Slovakia and Spain in 2019 Uefa European Championship qualifying. They begin their campaign against Estonia in Tallinn on June 8.

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