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Roy Carroll the popular call for Northern Ireland goalkeeping coach after Steve Harper leaves for Newcastle


Roy Carroll

Roy Carroll

Roy Carroll

Former Manchester United star Roy Carroll would be a popular choice with players and fans should he be chosen as the replacement for Steve Harper, who has stepped down from his role as goalkeeping coach for the Northern Ireland senior team.

Harper has taken up a full-time position as Newcastle United Academy Manager two years after being brought into the international set-up by then boss Michael O’Neill, which means current supremo Ian Baraclough needs a new specialist staff member in his backroom team ahead of crunch World Cup qualifiers against Lithuania and Switzerland in September.

While Harper worked with the team in the summer friendlies against Malta and Ukraine, he was unavailable in March when Northern Ireland faced Italy and Bulgaria in the World Cup and the USA in a friendly with Carroll moving up from the Under-17 and Under-19 squads to replace him for the triple-header.

Goalkeepers Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Conor Hazard spoke in glowing terms about working with ex-Northern Ireland hero Carroll, who said at the time he enjoyed the experience.

Last season the 43-year-old starred for Dungannon Swifts but has since left Stangmore Park, explaining to Sunday Life Sport in May that he was keen to focus on his coaching career.

Carroll played 45 times at senior international level and was a big favourite with the Windsor Park faithful who would be delighted to see him back with the Northern Ireland team.

Baraclough will be key in terms of the appointment, as he will be for the vacant Under-21 manager’s job following Andy Crosby’s decision last month to leave the caretaker’s role and become assistant boss at Port Vale.

Harper said: “I’ve loved every minute of my time with Northern Ireland and have worked with an incredible team on and off the pitch. I’m now a fully-fledged Northern Ireland fan and will be watching eagerly on the TV and from the stands where I can.”

Manager Baraclough commented: “Harps has been a valuable and trusted member of the group of staff I joined. His experience, knowledge and personality is second to none which meant his role spanned beyond goalkeeping.”

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