Wednesday 22 November 2017

North set to appoint O'Neill

Northern Ireland are set to name their new manager next week, with Michael O'Neill the heavy favourite to succeed Nigel Worthington.

O'Neill, who ended a successful stint as Shamrock Rovers boss last week, is understood to be the first choice of the Irish Football Association, who had a shortlist of three.

Iain Dowie and Jim Magilton -- who assisted O'Neill at Rovers -- were the other men to be interviewed for the post. All three candidates represented Northern Ireland as players and are keen to take charge of the World Cup 2014 campaign, despite a disappointing end to Worthington's tenure which saw the side finish fifth in their qualifying group for Euro 2012.

The role was not expected to be filled until January, but it's understood that an announcement can now be expected in the next week.

The interviewing panel -- led by IFA president Jim Shaw and chief executive Patrick Nelson -- must present their recommendation to the board for ratification and plan to do so on Tuesday or Wednesday. Worthington earned £450,000 a year, the biggest salary ever offered for the job, but his successor can expect closer to half of that.

O'Neill, 42, called time on his Rovers career after last week's Europa League defeat to Tottenham. During his time at the Tallaght Stadium, O'Neill won back-to-back League of Ireland titles and became the first manager to take an Irish team into the group stages in Europe.

Should personal terms be agreed with O'Neill, there would be great interest in Magilton joining the coaching staff, although the IFA's reduced budget could prove problematic.

Cheslea close in on Cahill

Bolton have begun talks with Chelsea about the possible sale of England defender Gary Cahill.

Cahill is out of contract at the end of the season when he could leave Bolton for free, and Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas has made his interest in the 26-year-old centre-back public this week.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle confirmed that "regarding Gary Cahill, there has been dialogue between ourselves and Chelsea".

Fenlon keen to keep Griffiths

NEW manager Pat Fenlon hopes to keep Leigh Griffiths at Easter Road, but admitted Hibernian are unlikely to stump up a fee to recruit the on-loan striker from his parent club Wolves.

Fenlon has already unveiled his first signing, striker Eoin Doyle, who was recruited after leaving Sligo Rovers. Griffiths, though, could depart, returning to Molineux in January at the expiration of his loan deal, unless Fenlon and Wolves boss Mick McCarthy can reach a compromise.

"We're of the opinion we'd like to keep him on loan. I don't think we're in a position to (pay a fee)," Fenlon said. "It's between the two clubs at the moment. I've spoken to Mick and we'll wait and see."

Griffiths is available again after serving a one-match ban for gesturing to Rangers fans, which caused him to miss the 1-0 loss to Aberdeen.

Simeone takes over Atletico

Atletico Madrid has hired former Argentina midfielder Diego Simeone as its new coach to replace the fired Gregorio Manzano.

Manzano was fired on Thursday, a day after Atletico were eliminated from the Copa del Rey by third-tier Albacete. Simeone is a former Atletico player who also led Estudiantes and River Plate to Argentine titles.

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