Belfast Telegraph

Who could be Northern Ireland's next manager? A look at five contenders if Michael O'Neill departs

 

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill has been linked with the Scotland, Rangers and Sunderland jobs after his country's heartbreaking World Cup play-off loss to Switzerland.

The 48-year-old said after the 1-0 aggregate defeat, settled by Ricardo Rodriguez's controversial first-leg penalty, he was not thinking about his future but here Press Association Sport looks at the contenders to replace O'Neill should he leave.

Tommy Wright

The former Newcastle and Manchester City goalkeeper has been in charge of St Johnstone since 2013.

He won the Scottish Cup in 2014 having also claimed the Irish League Cup with Lisburn Distillery in 2011 and was Michael O'Neill's goalkeeping coach when the pair were at Shamrock Rovers.

Under Wright, who won 31 caps for Northern Ireland, St Johnstone finished fourth in the SPL last season, although they lost to Lithuanian side FK Trakai in Europa League qualifying.

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St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright, pictured, is likely to be a contender for the Northern Ireland job if Michael O'Neill leaves.

Stephen Robinson

The Motherwell manager was part of O'Neill's coaching staff at Euro 2016 and also a former Under-21 boss so is likely to be high on the list.

He won seven caps between 1997 and 2007 and guided Motherwell to a Scottish League Cup final meeting with Celtic after beating Rangers 2-0 in the semi-finals.

Motherwell sit fifth in the SPL this season with Robinson having won 17 of his 31 games in charge.

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Stephen Robinson

Ian Baraclough

The 46-year-old was named Northern Ireland's Under-21 boss in March and has the youngsters top of Group Two in their quest to reach Euro 2019 in Italy and San Marino.

He took the job in May after leaving his role as Oldham's assistant boss and has previously managed Scunthorpe, Sligo Rovers and Motherwell.

Baraclough is already in the national set up and with several ageing senior players, including 37-year-old Gareth McAuley and 38-year-old Aaron Hughes, could be seen as an ideal choice to bring through the next generation.

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Ian Baraclough

David Healy

Northern Ireland's 36-goal record scorer has made a successful start in management after guiding Linfield to the treble last season.

Under Healy, the Blues won the Irish Premiership, Irish Cup and County Antrim Shield, although they are 11 points behind Coleraine in their title defence this season and lost to Celtic in Champions League qualifying.

He retired from playing in 2013 having won 95 caps for Northern Ireland and is likely to have fans' support from the start.

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David Healy

Sam Allardyce

He would be considered a huge outsider and may be off the market should the Northern Ireland vacancy open.

The ex-England boss has been heavily linked to the Everton post having left Crystal Palace at the end of last season.

A shot at international redemption, after losing the England job after just one game following an undercover newspaper investigation last year, may be hard to resist.

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Sam Allardyce

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