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Northern Ireland's Michael O'Neill era appears to be finished, says Warren Feeney

 

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Michael O'Neill

Michael O'Neill

Michael O'Neill

Michael O'Neill

Michael O'Neill

Warren Feeney feels Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland reign could be coming to an end.

Uefa are hoping Northern Ireland's Euro 2020 play-off against Bosnia and Herzegovina will take place in Zenica in early June but that will be impossible if the coronavirus epidemic is still claiming lives.

The Euro 2020 finals have already been pushed back a year to next summer and a further delay to the play-offs is likely to see O'Neill leave his role and focus on his Stoke City job.

The Irish FA hope to keep O'Neill in the post as long as possible but Feeney fears a separation in the coming months is likely.

"It's a very uncertain time for Michael and Northern Ireland," said Feeney, now manager of Bulgarian Second Division side OFC Pirin.

"Michael has done very well at Stoke and he wanted to take charge of the play-offs but it's a difficult picture for him now.

"I'm sure Stoke will want Michael 100% focused when football returns and from the start of next season.

"I think the Irish FA have been superb in keeping him on but it's not looking likely he can stay on with Stoke in his day to day job and keep doing the Northern Ireland role."

The leading contenders to succeed O'Neill appear to Ian Baraclough, Stephen Robinson, Jim Magilton and Tommy Wright.

Feeney believes all four men deserve serious consideration.

"Ian has done very well with the Under-21s, Robbo is doing a great job at Motherwell, Jim was a great player and knows the system of the IFA, he could be a good option and you have big Tommy who has done a great job at St Johnstone and has been linked with the job the most," added Feeney, who won 46 Northern Ireland caps between 2002 and 2011.

"I'm not surprised if all the lads are options and it will come down to what the IFA wants. It's a big call they will eventually have to make."

Belfast Telegraph