Lawrie Sanchez denies contact with Irish FA
Barnet manager Lawrie Sanchez has denied he has had any contact with the Irish Football Association about returning to coach Northern Ireland.
Sanchez, who enjoyed a successful stint in charge of the side between 2004 and 2007, was reported to be on the shortlist to replace Nigel Worthington, who resigned from the post in October.
The IFA are believed to be interviewing candidates this week, with Sanchez's name one of those thought to be under discussion.
However last night he said he had not applied and had not been in touch with his former employers, underlining his commitment to the Bees in the process.
“Further to the speculation that came to a head last Friday I wish it to be known to all Barnet FC supporters that I have not formally applied for the position as manager of the Northern Ireland international side and I was puzzled as to how my name seemed to appear on a 'shortlist',” admitted Sanchez last night.
“I want to assure Barnet supporters that I am fully committed to honouring my contact with the club, a contract that runs to the end of this season. I am enjoying managing this club and I believe we have a side that is capable of finishing in a more than respectable position in the league.
“Furthermore I must add that no formal contact has been made to me by the Irish FA.”
Sanchez's decision to distance himself from the position is at odds with an interview he gave to BBC Radio Ulster in September when he was critical of Worthington following Northern Ireland's defeat at the hands of Estonia and said: “I have always said I would like to finish what I started”.
Sanchez, who oversaw famous wins over England and Spain, remains popular with some sections of the Green and White Army but many fans still resent his decision to leave for Fulham while Northern Ireland were in a strong position to qualify for Euro 2008.
His negative assessment of Worthington while the former Norwich boss was still in the job was also considered by many to be in poor taste and he may have been a divisive appointment within the current playing squad.
Current front-runners to replace Worthington include Gerry Armstrong, Michael O'Neill, Jim Magilton and Iain Dowie.