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IFA employ Armstrong to halt exodus

The Irish Football Association have confirmed Gerry Armstrong has started work as the organisation's 'elite player mentor'.

The former Tottenham and Real Mallorca striker is one of the best known players to have played for Northern Ireland and was twice appointed as assistant manager to the national side. His new role is aimed at providing a link between the IFA and young Northern Ireland-eligible players contracted to clubs in England and Scotland.

"I really am genuinely excited about this role. It will be a challenge, I'm sure, but I know that I can make a difference," said Armstrong.

"Northern Ireland has some fantastic youngsters and if I can play a small part in supporting them to become full internationals then I will be very satisfied.

"Everyone knows that I loved playing for Northern Ireland and also working within the international set-up, and I am looking forward to working with the Irish FA again."

Armstrong will work with players aged 16-21 and one of his key assignments will be stemming the flow of young talent pledging their international futures to Ireland having played for Northern Ireland at youth levels.

Sunderland James McClean, capped by the IFA at Under-21 level, rejected Nigel Worthington's senior call for the recent Euro 2012 qualifier against the Faroe Islands, declaring himself instead for Ireland.

He is the latest in a group that also includes the likes of Darron Gibson, Shane Duffy, Marc Wilson and Adam Barton to take advantage of a FIFA ruling that allows players born in the north to declare for either association.

Northern Ireland manager, Nigel Worthington, added: "It is great that we now have someone of Gerry's experience and stature on board.

"I am sure that he will be a huge benefit to the association and the young players we have coming through the ranks."

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