Michael O'Neill looks set to take over at Stoke City
Michael O’Neill is set to bring his eight-year tenure with Northern Ireland to an end by taking over at Stoke City.
Reports coming out of England on Thursday night suggested that bar a last-minute hitch O’Neill would be the new manager of the Championship club.
The Potters have been linked with a host of potential replacements since sacking Nathan Jones and contacted the IFA about their long-serving boss.
In a short statement, the IFA said: “The Irish Football Association has been approached by EFL Championship club Stoke City who are seeking permission to speak to Michael O’Neill about their vacant manager’s position.”
Stoke are ready to pay the £650,000 compensation figure included in the new contract O’Neill signed in February 2018.
The 50-year-old however is expected to stay in charge of Northern Ireland for their remaining Euro 2020 qualifiers against Holland and Germany before taking up his new role.
Speaking at Wednesday’s squad announcement in Belfast, O’Neill was asked about potential interest from Stoke.
“It is always flattering. It is better to be linked than not linked, let’s be honest,” said O’Neill, who turned was unsuccessfully targeted by Scotland last year.
“It it is not a distraction for me. It is something that has been ongoing for a number of years, and the focus has been on preparing for next week’s games.
“As I have always said, if and when a situation arises, then you look at that scenario at that moment in time. But right now, my focus is obviously on the two games that lie ahead.”