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O'Neill favourite for N Ireland job
Published : 23 Dec 2011 16:17:00
Northern Ireland are set to name their new manager next week, with Michael O'Neill the heavy favourite to succeed Nigel Worthington.
O'Neill, who ended a successful stint as Shamrock Rovers boss last week, is understood to be the first choice of the Irish Football Association, who had narrowed the field to a shortlist of three.
Iain Dowie and Jim Magilton - who assisted O'Neill at Shamrock - were the other men to be interviewed for the post.
All three candidates represented Northern Ireland as players and are keen to take charge of the World Cup 2014 campaign, despite a disappointing end to Worthington's tenure which saw the side finish fifth in their qualifying group for Euro 2012.
The role was not expected to be filled until January, but Press Association Sport understands an announcement can now be expected before the end of the year.
The interviewing panel - led by IFA president Jim Shaw and chief executive Patrick Nelson - must present their recommendation to the board for ratification and plan to do so on Tuesday or Wednesday next week.
Worthington earned Â£450,000 a year as Northern Ireland boss, the biggest salary ever offered for the job, but his successor can expect a figure closer to half of that.
O'Neill, 42, called time on his Shamrock career after last week's Europa League defeat to Tottenham. During his time at the Tallaght Stadium, O'Neill won back to back League of Ireland titles and became the first manager to take an Irish team into the group stages in Europe.
His previous managerial job was in Scotland with Brechin City and he was strongly linked with Hibernian before Pat Fenlon was installed at Easter Road.
Should personal terms be agreed with O'Neill, there would be great interest in Magilton joining the coaching staff, although the IFA's reduced budget could prove problematic.