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Ian Baraclough in new Northern Ireland U21 deal talks ahead of crunch Slovakia tie

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland Under-21 boss Ian Baraclough has revealed that he is engaged in talks with the Irish FA about his future and wants to remain in charge of the team.

Appointed last year, Baraclough has done an excellent job as manager of the youngsters who approach tonight’s final 2019 European Championship qualifier against Slovakia at Windsor Park (7.30pm) with a chance of creating history and reaching next year’s finals.

Northern Ireland need to beat Slovakia to finish second in their group and hope results in other groups go their way this evening to make it to the play-offs.

Even to be in this position for a Northern Ireland Under-21 side is remarkable which is why captain Liam Donnelly said at the weekend that the IFA should do whatever it takes to keep 47-year-old Baraclough at the helm when the qualifiers are over.

Asked about his future, the former Scunthorpe, Sligo Rovers and Motherwell manager said: “We’ve had discussions about me staying on and they are ongoing.

“I’ve really enjoyed this campaign. My experience of international football before this was very limited. I only played for England at under-18 level and I have enjoyed this side of football.

“The staff have been magnificent and the players have been great. If there is a chance of doing it more then I’d like to increase that experience.”

Following last night’s game in Bosnia, senior manager Michael O’Neill will be at Windsor tonight running the rule over the under-21 players.

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