Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill has admitted that he is flattered to be linked with the vacant managerial post at Stoke City, according to the Daily Record.
Since sacking Nathan Jones a week ago, the Potters have been linked with a whole host of managers as they look to salvage a season which could hardly have started much worse.
The likes of David Moyes, Neil Harris, Uwe Rosler and Derek McInnes have been mentioned so far but Chris Hughton, who has led both Newcastle and Brighton to promotion from the second tier, has no interest in taking over a club stuck at the bottom of the Championship (the Sun).
O’Neill is another name in the frame.
The Portadown-born tactician has a contract with the Northern Ireland until 2024 but, with the nation looking likely to miss out on a place at Euro 2020 next summer, it remains to be seen whether he will see out that long-running deal.
Northern Ireland need to beat both Germany and Holland in November’s make-or-break double-header if they are to qualify automatically - easier said than done.
And, in quotes reported by the Record, O’Neill has now hinted at his desire to return to the day-to-day job of club management.
“I’ve always said that when I do step away from international management it’s important the club has good ownership and good people to work for so that’s the priority in any thinking I’ll have,” said the former Brechin and Shamrock Rovers coach.
“It’s always flattering. It’s better to be linked than not linked, let’s be honest. That applies to any job. It’s not a distraction for me. If and when a situation arises you look at that scenario at that point in time.”
O’Neill famously led Northern Ireland to Euro 2016, the country’s first major tournament in three decades. And his ability to make a team far greater than the sum of it’s parts should appeal to a Stoke side bereft of quality or confidence.
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