O'Neill happy at Rovers

Shamrock Rovers manager Michael O’Neill insists he is not looking to leave the club as they prepare to face PAOK Salonika in their Europa League Group A clash at Tallaght Stadium tomorrow night.

Shamrock Rovers manager Michael O’Neill insists he is not looking to leave the club as they prepare to face PAOK Salonika in their Europa League Group A clash at Tallaght Stadium tomorrow night.

Highly-rated O’Neill has just guided Rovers to back-to-back League of Ireland titles, the first time they have achieved the feat since 1987, but has been strongly linked with the Northern Ireland job, vacated by Nigel Worthington at the end of their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

With O’Neill’s Rovers contract set to expire some bookies had suspended betting on him taking over from Worthington but he insists he expects to stay put for next season.

“I’m not really looking to go elsewhere. I’m not applying for jobs elsewhere despite what some people have been reporting,” he told RTÉ.

“The progress at Rovers has been great, but there’s still so much more that can be done with the club.

“Hopefully over the next few weeks, we can find a resolution to the contract situation.”

Chairman Jonathan Roche has always insisted that the club can agree a new deal with their sought-after coach, and believes wrapping up the league title means the players can relax as they look to secure their first points of their Europa League campaign following a 2-1 defeat in Greece last time out.

“We can enjoy playing PAOK now – if we hadn’t won the league it would have taken the gloss off it a bit,” he told the Irish Independent.

“The club and the team have worked hard for this. We are building something. Over every one of our European games we have played better, we have improved and we have learned. We were never going in expecting to beat teams in the group stages. It is about learning.

“I don’t think that in the general Irish sphere the size of our achievement has been recognised; people don’t appreciate what we’re up against.

“PAOK might not be a well-known club in Ireland, but they are a big club. Their budget is €15-16m. That is bigger than anything in this country in any sport, and they are treating us as equals.

“Winning the league has given us a better chance of doing it again because of the route back in.”

Salonika coach Laszlo Boloni, meanwhile, has several injury problems ahead of the trip to Ireland as striker Stefan Athanasiadis, defender Pablo Contreras, midfielders Pablo Garcia, Stavros Tsoukalas and Vladimir Ivic plus forward Apostolos Giannou are all ruled out, while Giorgos Katsikas, Leonardo and Juliano Spadacio are ineligible.

But a win for the Greek side will move them a step closer to a place in the knockout phase, particularly if Tottenham can see off Rubin Kazan, whom PAOK lead by a solitary point at the halfway stage of the group.

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