Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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I haven't thought about my future yet, says Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill

The boss also urged his players to be cautious over ending their international careers

By Gareth Hanna

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill says his thoughts have not yet turned to his future and urged his players to also take their time before making retirement decisions.

O'Neill has led Northern Ireland to 23rd in the FIFA World Ranking, a 73 place rise on their 96th placing back in 2012, the year O'Neill took charge.

Consequently, the manager has been tipped for a move into club football and now that Northern Ireland's World Cup dream is at an end, questions on the manager's future have already followed, despite his contract stretching to 2020.

"I'm not even giving it any thought," he told Sky Sports. "My focus is with the players in the dressing room."

O'Neill advised those players to take time before turning their backs on international football. Gareth McAuley at 37 and Aaron Hughes at 38 are two of the players expected to end their international careers but the manager is urging caution.

He said: "Ultimately they've got decisions to make on their international futures but I told them not to rush into anything, take their time. I think they should maybe talk to Aaron Hughes about that, who retired from international football five years ago and is playing here tonight.

"There's a lot of emotion in the dressing room but this isn't the time to think about that."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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