Worthington to step down
Published 11/10/2011 | 05:00
Nigel Worthington will step down as Northern Ireland manager after tonight's match against Italy after admitting recent results had left him no option.
Worthington, who has been in charge since Lawrie Sanchez walked away in 2007 to take over Fulham, has been under increasing pressure in recent weeks after a home defeat to Serbia was followed by back-to-back losses against Estonia.
That wrecked any chance the side had of securing a Euro 2012 play-off and they face the Azzurri lying fifth in Group C, ahead of only the Faroe Islands.
Shamrock Rovers manager Michael O'Neill has emerged as a front-runner at the perfect time after his success in leading a League of Ireland side to the group stages of the Europa League for the first time. Seen by many as a future national team boss, he may nevertheless wish to wait for the job to come along again.
O'Neill's temporary assistant at Rovers, Jim Magilton, is a viable candidate. He was considered for the job when Worthington was appointed, but opted against applying due to a lack of experience.
He has since managed Ipswich and QPR, while his 52 Northern Ireland caps would count in his favour.
Former Celtic boss Martin O'Neill is not thought to covet the job, and would probably cost too much for the IFA to consider.
•Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley has signed a four-year deal that will keep him at Old Trafford until the end of the 2014/15 season.
The 22-year-old, who broke into the first team during United's explosive start to their title defence, damaged ligaments in his ankle a month ago and has been sidelined since.