Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill sets sights on four-year contract with Irish FA

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill has set his sights on securing a new four-year contract with the Irish FA.

Association president Jim Shaw has hinted that a two-year extension could be offered to O’Neill, which would take in next summer’s European Championship finals – if Northern Ireland qualify – and the next World Cup qualifying campaign.

But O’Neill has admitted he would prefer a “longer-term” contract.

“My priority at the minute is qualifying for the European finals and then it will be a case of assessing the situation,” the 46-year-old former midfielder said.

“If I am the right person for the job I would like something of a longer-term nature.

“I would probably be looking for a four-year situation which would take the team to the next European campaign.

“I have been almost four years in the job and the association may feel it is time for someone else at that point.

“But right now my only focus is working with this group of players and getting them over the line to the finals.”

IFA president Shaw had earlier suggested a new two-year deal was likely, with the term covering a single qualifying campaign.

“We tend to go on two-year cycles because that matches the tournaments,” he said.

“If that suits both parties, I am happy with that. But it does not mean there is no commitment to hanging on to our manager.

“We do not want to lose him at any stage and we will be dealing with Michael in the near future.”

Northern Ireland require two points from their last two Euro 2016 qualifiers – at home to Greece next Thursday and away to Finland three days later.