| 13.6°C Belfast

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill to sign four-year deal


Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill

©William Cherry / Presseye

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill is ready to sign his new four year contract with the Irish Football Association.

The Belfast Telegraph understands that negotiations regarding the deal have gone well and now it is a case of the paperwork being completed before an announcement is made.

We revealed last year that the IFA would break with the norm and give the manager, who inspired Northern Ireland to the Euro 2016 finals, a longer term contract rather than the traditional two year extension.

O’Neill is content with the terms, which will see a significant rise in wages from his current £250,000 per year salary.

After Northern Ireland qualified for the Euro 2016 finals in October, O'Neill held preliminary talks over a new deal with the IFA and they have progressed enough in recent weeks for him to be ready to sign on the dotted line.

In November this newspaper disclosed that O'Neill's new contract would include key clauses allowing him to talk to interested clubs and the IFA to be well compensated should he move on after the Euro finals.

O'Neill is on Celtic's radar with Ronny Deila expected to leave Parkhead in the summer and a number of clubs in England are keeping an eye on the 46-year-old from Ballymena.

He has admitted that he would consider club offers on their merits. Equally, he would be enthused by the challenge of leading Northern Ireland into the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

O'Neill knows that with several international retirements expected after the finals, there will be a rebuilding process - but that does not worry him.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley is out of action for the next few weeks after picking up a hamstring injury in WBA's FA Cup replay win at Peterborough on Wednesday, but should be back for the March friendlies against Wales and Slovenia.

Forward Kyle Lafferty will also be involved in those fixtures and is hoping to move to Leeds United from Norwich in the emergency loan window.

Belfast Telegraph