Steven Davis admits it was a relief to get through the summer without Michael O’Neill being poached by a top club.
O’Neill’s burgeoning reputation swelled further after guiding Northern Ireland to their first-ever European Championship finals.
In France they progressed to the knockout stage before going out to Wales in the last-16.
The 47-year-old was on the radar of a number of clubs during the summer, but has remained at the Northern Ireland helm ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.
“I am sure there were a few clubs sniffing around Michael during the summer. He is a manager in demand because of the success he has had,” Davis said.
“It is great that we have him on board for the World Cup qualifiers.
“He found the right formula for the squad and the results followed. He has done a fantastic job with Northern Ireland since he came in, and you can’t under-estimate the impact he has had.”
On Wednesday O’Neill will name his squad for next week’s opening World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic.