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Michael O'Neill appoints familiar face Billy McKinlay as assistant at Stoke City

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill (right) with new Stoke assistant coach Billy McKinlay (centre)
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill (right) with new Stoke assistant coach Billy McKinlay (centre)

Michael O'Neill has opted for a familiar face as his No.2 at Stoke City by appointing former Northern Ireland assistant Billy McKinlay to his backroom staff.

The pair will link up again at the bet365 Stadium having worked together briefly during O'Neill's early years with Northern Ireland.

McKinlay left the role to take up the reins as Watford manager, however he lasted just eight days at Vicarage Road before leaving the club.

O'Neill and McKinlay have known each other since they were team-mates at Dundee United in the 1990s, and the former Scotland international will bring a wealth of experience to the Potters.

The 50-year-old worked with David Moyes at Real Sociedad, Sunderland and West Ham, while his playing career saw him win 29 caps for his country, playing in Euro 96 and the 1998 World Cup.

A midfielder, McKinlay made over 200 appearances for Dundee United, before spending five years with Blackburn Rovers. That was followed by spells with Bradford City, Clydebank, Leicester City and Fulham.

"Billy and I have known each other since the early 1990s when we were team-mates and I'm delighted to welcome him to the staff at Stoke City," O'Neill said of the appointment.

"I've seen Billy work at both club and international level and I know that he's an excellent coach who I believe is a great fit for us."

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