The crucial decision that faces Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill



Michael O’Neill is expected to stand down as Northern Ireland manager in June, report the Irish press this afternoon.

O’Neill has balanced his roles in charge of Stoke City and the international team since November and a decision would have been made following this month’s Euro 2020 play-off qualifiers.

That initial play-off against Bosnia and Herzegovina has now been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak and initially pencilled in for June, with Euro 2020 now put back 12 months.

The Irish News report: “Those play-off dates, if the games can go ahead, should allow O’Neill to oversee the semi-final away to Bosnia and Herzegovina – and a potential final play-off against either Slovakia or the Republic in Belfast.

“However, if the coronavirus crisis pushes the return of international football action back any later, into the autumn of this year, that would probably end O’Neill’s time in charge of NI.”

O’Neill had said just last week that he could handle tasks for club and country from November to March – but that it would be a more difficult juggling act in the longer term.

He said: “November to March is the quietest part of an international manager’s calendar and that has coincided with the period I’ve been in charge here.

“It wouldn’t be doable if you were doing it September, October and November, that wouldn’t be an option.”

The play-off semi-finals are now pencilled in for a date between Monday, June 1 and Tuesday, June 9. Uefa have secured the release of players for all rescheduled international matches.

But dates surrounding the resumption of football are still far from certain. The EFL board is meeting today to discuss options, with Championship clubs adamant that Plan A should be to finish the 2019/20 season as soon as it is safe.





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