Stoke have made an official approach for Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill as they hunt for a successor to Nathan Jones.
The Potters have won just twice in the league this season and currently sit bottom of the Championship, costing Jones, who left Luton for the bet365 Stadium in January, his job.
On Thursday, the IFA confirmed O’Neill had been contacted about the vacancy: “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,” a statement read.
O’Neill has been in charge of his national side since the end of 2011 and guided them to their first major tournament in 30 years when qualifying for Euro 2016.
O’Neill, who helped lift Northern Ireland from 129th to 20th in the FIFA rankings, see his side currently third in Group C behind the Netherlands and Germany in their quest to reach Euro 2020.
Speaking at Wednesday’s squad announcement in Belfast, O’Neill was asked about potential interest from Stoke.
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“It is always flattering,” aid O’Neill, who was unsuccessfully targeted by Scotland last year. “It is better to be linked than not linked, let’s be honest.
“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.”
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