Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

We won’t have to replace Worthington, insists Kennedy

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington

Raymond Kennedy won’t consider having to trigger a recruitment process for a new international manager — because he doesn’t believe he will have to.

The Irish Football Association President, however, concedes that if Nigel Worthington has a hankering to return to club management then it’s a decision he will struggle to reverse.

Kennedy is hoping to be able to secure the services of Worthington for two more years before Sheffield Wednesday come calling — as they are expected to do — to ask their former left-back to succeed Brian Laws as manager at Hillsborough.

“There has been no approach from any club, be it Sheffield Wednesday or anyone else,” said Kennedy, who is well aware of Worthington’s connections with the Owls and his close relationship with Howard Wilkinson, who will be advising the Wednesday board on the appointment of a new boss.

“There have been no requests to speak to Nigel. It‘s speculation,”

And if Worthington’s heartstrings are being tugged by the lure of managing a club he spent 11 years with as a player and helped to a League Cup victory over Manchester United, then Kennedy expects to be inundated with candidates to lead Northern Ireland into the Euro 2012 campaign — even though he believes it won’t come to that.

“There is no shortlist prepared, but there are plenty of people who would be interested in the job,” said Kennedy.

“Nobody has been in touch, but over the period of time people have said that if it ever became vacant they’d be interested. Those people are around all the time.

“I am sure if the job was vacant tomorrow there would be lots of people rolling in showing their interest. That will not be the case though,” he confidently stated.

Lawrie Sanchez never made any secret of his desire one day to return to club management when he was Northern Ireland boss, while in Scotland and Wales, Walter Smith, Alex McLeish and Mark Hughes have all stepped down from the national job in recent years to take on Premier League clubs in Scotland and England.

It may be a Championship club that Worthington is favourite to return to, but with him being a firm fans favourite at Wednesday that’s not really an issue.

“I can’t make a manager’s mind up for him. There is club football and international football and if ever a manager wants to move — and various managers come to the international scene and miss the day-to-day involvement and that’s maybe where they want to go, but that’s a personal choice for a manager,” said Kennedy.

“I’m persuading Nigel to stay at the moment and hopefully we can get the package put together to retain him as manager.

“It hasn’t dragged on, there were to be no talks until the qualifiers were over and that’s how things were. We talked for thee first time last week, that’s the way things are set up.

“We’ve no qualifiers until September, so if we’ve to go to plan B then we’ve plenty of time. We were maybe going to have to push things a bit quicker if we were playing in February or March, but everything has to be right for all concerned.”