sundaylife

| 14.8°C Belfast

Michael O'Neill set for Windsor Park return as Stoke target Linfield friendly

 

Close

Michael O'Neill saved Stoke City from relegation to League One.

Michael O'Neill saved Stoke City from relegation to League One.

Getty Images

Michael O'Neill saved Stoke City from relegation to League One.

Michael O'Neill wants to bring Stoke City to Belfast for a friendly with Premiership champions Linfield at Windsor Park.

The former Northern Ireland manager contacted Blues boss David Healy about a possible friendly next month, though Linfield's involvement in the Champions League could cause fixture congestion problems.

O'Neill, who excelled in his first season at the helm of the Potters, intends to bring his squad over for a pre-season training camp and has made enquiries about availability of suitable venues.

"Michael has mentioned publicly that a pre-season trip to Ireland may be on the cards but it's still very much at the planning stage," a Stoke City spokesperson told Sunday Life Sport.

Linfield believe that, while their entire focus is on their Champions League game against Tre Fiori on August 8, they could accommodate O'Neill.

Healy (right) played under O'Neill, the pair enjoy a close relationship and a return to the National Stadium for the Ballymena man would be a huge coup for Linfield.

"Michael has been in touch but talks have not progressed any further," said a Windsor source.

"However, we are hopeful we could play on a Saturday between European games, if that helps Michael."

O'Neill left Northern Ireland for Stoke last November with a brief to stave off relegation from the Championship after the Staffordshire club took just eight points from their opening 15 League games.

A storming second half to the season saw the club finish comfortably in 15th position with an impressive haul of 56 points.

Belfast Telegraph