Saturday 25 November 2017

Sheppard praying O'Neill not dazzled by Northern lights

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

KARL SHEPPARD hopes that Shamrock Rovers manager Michael O'Neill will agree a new contract soon, but says the manager is entitled to do things in his own time.

The Northern Irishman is still in the running for the vacant position as manager of his country, and has failed to reach agreement with the Hoops board regarding his future.

Discussion of O'Neill's contract has been a recurring theme throughout the campaign and it is unclear if his future will be resolved before the final Europa League game with Spurs on December 15.

Realistically, the situation with the Hoops revolves around how quickly the Irish Football Association make a decision on their next boss.

Sheppard is desperate for O'Neill to stay at the club. The young striker has thrived under his tutelage and has developed from the experience of European football -- even if he tasted group-stage defeat again on Wednesday night at the hands of Rubin Kazan in chilly Russia.

"I think everyone wants him to stay on," says Sheppard. "Look how far the club has come in three years. Everyone wants him to stay, but I don't think we're putting him under any pressure to get it signed soon. I'm sure he'll do it himself."

Sheppard was aggrieved at Rubin's 4-1 winning margin, with poor decisions from the match officials for the final two goals.

Nevertheless, the 20-year-old wasn't too downhearted in the aftermath and says there is no danger of the players slacking off now, even though they are bottom of their group with zero points from five games.

Of course, the fact that their final opponents are high-profile Premier League opposition helps, although Harry Redknapp's Tottenham Hotspur are also facing elimination unless Rubin Kazan lose away to PAOK Salonika on the same night.

"It's going to be a massive occasion," says Sheppard. "I think everyone had the two Spurs games pencilled in as the two they might look forward to the most, and to have them in Tallaght will be great for the club and for the lads as well."

Meanwhile, veteran Scot Jim Paterson has acknowledged that O'Neill's plans for 2012 will have a big say on whether he stays with the club.

The left-sided player has filled in on the wing in recent games, but would prefer to be in defence -- a role that will be vacant with Enda Stevens on the way to Aston Villa. However, Paterson is unsure of his plans.

"I have enjoyed my time here," he said. "I have enjoyed the league campaign and winning the title, and I have enjoyed the European experience.

"I'm open to anything. We will wait until the end of the European campaign is played out before the gaffer sits down but if the manager wants to sit down and talk to me, I'm willing to listen to what he has to say.

"If Michael stays, obviously it would be big because I have worked with him and I have enjoyed it, whereas if another manager comes in he might not want me."

Danny Ventre is the latest Sligo Rovers player to commit to the club by signing a new deal. The Liverpudlian is the fourth member of last year's squad to put pen to paper this week, with Danny North also joining the Bit O'Red from St Patrick's Athletic.

Irish Independent

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