Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill dismisses links with Scotland job

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill dismisses links with Scotland job

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill attempted to quell the clamour for him to become the next Scotland boss by suggesting he had given little thought to possibly succeeding Gordon Strachan.

Although there is no current vacancy north of the border, a disappointing start to the Scots' World Cup qualifying campaign has ramped up the pressure on Strachan and led to pundits considering who should assume the reins were the current manager to move on.

Edinburgh-based O'Neill has already emerged as a popular choice in the Scottish press due to the job he has done in transforming Northern Ireland from minnows with one win in his first 18, to Euro 2016 participants currently defending a 10-game home unbeaten streak.

O'Neill penned a four-year contract extension in March and his team have made a fine start in their own bid to reach Russia in two years' time, though the Northern Irish boss chose his words carefully when the prospect of the Scottish job was put to him.

Asked if Northern Ireland fans should be concerned by the link, O'Neill replied: "No, I don't think so.

"First of all, there's someone in that job who I have a huge amount of respect for, who is a manager I played under (at Coventry).

"It's probably the fact I live in Scotland is a bigger driving factor of that than anything else.

"I haven't given a second thought to that at all. I'd rather not give a comment on that situation at the minute to be fair."

O'Neill may not be the only member of the Northern Irish staff to have admirers in Scotland.

Assistant Austin MacPhee, known for his analytical expertise, could be considered for his country's technical director post and O'Neill, who lost Stephen Robinson when the Oldham vacancy arose in the summer, would not begrudge his aides should they wish to further their careers elsewhere.

"You can't stop that, if people do well you want them to progress," O'Neill added.

"You can't just keep people and not expect them to grow and their own careers flourish. So what's down the line I don't give a lot of thought to.

"You can't plan for that. Football is about the here and now and that's where our focus is."

O'Neill will take charge of Northern Ireland's 13th and final match of the calendar year when a depleted Croatia side visit Windsor Park on Tuesday night.

The likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Dejan Lovren are all missing from the visitors' ranks, while O'Neill is expected to hand starts to those he less frequently uses including back-up goalkeeper Alan Mannus and Niall McGinn, who will win his 50th cap.

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