Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill wants France but not England at Euro draw

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neil
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neil

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill would love to face host nation France in the opening game of Euro 2016 but would rather avoid Roy Hodgson’s England.

The draw for next year’s European Championships takes place in Paris on Saturday, with O’Neill’s men in Pot Four alongside the Republic of Ireland and Wales for their first major finals since we qualified for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

O’Neill conceded that while featuring in the opening night against the hosts would be something special, there are some teams he would rather avoid.

“Playing France in the opening game would be a special experience.

“I suppose you would look to avoid Italy from pot two and probably an England game as well, simply because the attention around that could overshadow everything else,” said O’Neill.

And he says it has been fantastic to lead his side to the final - but it has not been easy.

“International management is really difficult.

“I don’t think club management prepares you for this role but the skills you develop as an international manager will help you in a club situation.

“Your man-management skills have to be very finely tuned, more so than at club level because you have less power with the players,” he added.

The draw from Parisis due to take place from 5pm.