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O'Neill on Foxes' radar but IFA say club has not been in touch

By Graham Luney

The Irish Football Association said last night they had not received any contact from Leicester City regarding an interest in Michael O'Neill.

O'Neill has been sounded out by Foxes chiefs in connection with the vacant managerial position at the club but the Green and White Army shouldn't panic as several names are being linked with the role and the Northern Ireland boss is drifting out in the betting.

Craig Shakespeare is in pole position to land the post if he continues to impress in the caretaker role and he will have talks with club chiefs next week.

Shakespeare was put in interim charge following the controversial sacking of Claudio Ranieri and he was asked to take charge of today's crunch clash with Hull at the King Power Stadium after the Foxes dispatched Liverpool in emphatic fashion on Monday.

Roy Hodgson is a frontrunner with the bookies and one bookmaker - Sun Bets - has even suspended betting on the former England boss landing the job.

O'Neill was third in the bookies' list of contenders but the odds on him being appointed drifted out from 10-1 to 16-1.

Former Northern Ireland international and Leicester City midfielder Neil Lennon, currently in charge of Hibs, is also being linked with the job but that scenario is highly unlikely.

The IFA will receive a compensation figure of around £750,000 should O'Neill find alternative employment during the course of his four-year contract agreed last March but the association say there has been no approach from the Foxes. An IFA source stated: "There has been no contact from the club and Michael is still our manager ahead of the Norway game."

Leicester's owners are currently assessing their options and Northern Ireland fans would understand O'Neill's interest in the Foxes' position even if his departure at this stage of the World Cup qualifying campaign would be a considerable blow.

The former Shamrock Rovers chief has greatly enhanced his managerial reputation by steering Northern Ireland to the last 16 of the 2016 European Championship finals and they are also well placed to seal a play-off spot for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, sitting second behind Germany in qualifying Group C.

"I don't know and I'll leave that to the powers that be," Shakespeare said when he was asked if he knew who was under consideration.

"I think it's pure speculation, a lot of names have been mentioned and I wouldn't want to speculate on names."

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's women secured an emphatic 8-0 win over Chinese Taipei in the Istria Cup in Croatia.

Simone Magill scored four goals and further strikes from captain Marissa Callaghan, Ciara Sherwood and Caragh Milligan along with a penalty from Avila Bergin secured the comfortable win. Northern Ireland now play Slovenia in their final group game on Monday.

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