Belfast Telegraph

IFA set to appoint Michael O’Neill as Northern Ireland boss

By Stuart McKinley

The Irish FA appear to be ready to hand Michael O’Neill the difficult task of reviving Northern Ireland’s flagging footballing fortunes.

Windsor Avenue chiefs had suggested that a decision on a new international manager wouldn’t be made this side of Christmas — and probably not until the New Year.

Last night, however, former Shamrock Rovers boss O’Neill emerged as the man who looks set to win the three-man race to succeed Nigel Worthington, pipping his former international team-mates Iain Dowie and Jim Magilton to the job.

IFA president Jim Shaw told the Belfast Telegraph: “The interviews have been finished and naturally we have got a successful candidate in mind.

“The interview panel was given license to select the new manager and now we have to reach agreement.

“I haven't been in contact with the person myself, but the process to finalise the appointment has started.”

Sources close to Dowie and Magilton have indicated that neither party has received a call from the IFA, leaving 42-year-old O’Neill (pictured) as the man most likely to be the next Northern Ireland boss.

It is understood that all three candidates impressed at their recent interviews for the post and while Dowie and Magilton possess the Premier League and Championship management experience in England that O’Neill doesn’t, it seems that his recent achievement of guiding Shamrock Rovers into the group stages of the Europa League has played a big part in him being selected the IFA’s first choice.

O’Neill, who played 33 times for Northern Ireland between 1988 and 1996, is now expected to be the man in the dugout for the friendly at home to Norway on February 29 next year.

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