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Stephen Robinson: I'm proud to be linked with Northern Ireland job and a team on way up


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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson insists Northern Ireland's future is bright and he craves the chance to build on Michael O'Neill's legacy.

The Motherwell boss is one of the leading candidates for the job, along with Under-21 coach Ian Baraclough, former St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright and Irish FA Elite Performance Director, Jim Magilton.

Robinson took charge of the Under 21s before becoming part of O'Neill's coaching staff during the successful qualification campaign for Euro 2016.

Now the 45-year-old from Lisburn, who earned seven international caps, is among the frontrunners hoping to pick up the baton after O'Neill opted to focus on his job at Stoke City.

O'Neill's departure after eight years in charge has inevitably sparked a little concern among the Green and White Army, but Robinson argues the wheels are not about to come off the bandwagon.

"It's a tremendous job for somebody, it's a country on the up," said Robinson.

"Usually a job like that comes up when things aren't going so well but to come in with a group of players like that is a great opportunity.

"The country is in a good place all the way through, from Club NI right up.

"From where it was seven or eight years ago when I started with the under 21s with Michael to where Michael has left it off, the staff that have worked with him have to take a lot of credit for that too. It's certainly in a good position for someone to take it forward.

"For me being linked, it's just purely speculation but ultimately I'm a Northern Ireland fan and I just want to see the team do well."

Robinson added: “The team are in a very good place, they’re two games away from another Euros. In terms of the recent years before Michael came in, it’s a brilliant achievement. It’s a team that’s evolving, it’s young, it’s energetic.

“You’d hope to hold onto the likes of Jonny Evans and Steve Davis and get another campaign out of them; it would be great for the country. I’ve had the privilege of working with 90 to 95% of the playing staff at the moment.”

O’Neill guided Northern Ireland to a Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Bosnia & Herzegovina but, with that game now possibly being played later in the year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the former Shamrock Rovers chief mutually agreed to step aside from his role.

Robinson is clearly flattered to be linked with the vacancy.

“It’s pure speculation at the moment, it’s obviously a huge compliment and we must be doing something right at Motherwell to be linked to what we’ve been linked with,” he said.

“At some stage, it would be a massive honour to manage your country, every manager would say the same.

“Whether it’s the right time now for me, whether people see fit at this moment in time to do that then... it’s purely speculation.

“If that ever happens, it will be a decision to make but, at this moment, I have to solely concentrate on Motherwell.

“A lot of people have been mentioned to replace Michael, they all have their pluses and minuses and ultimately that’s not my decision to make, that will be for other people to decide.”

Belfast Telegraph