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Northern Ireland Michael O’Neill says combining NI play-off role with Stoke job will be ‘dead easy’


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Northern Ireland Michael O’Neill says combining NI play-off role with Stoke job will be ‘dead easy’

Michael O’Neill says he could now name his squad for the Euro 2020 play-off in MarchNorthern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill insists he will be able to juggle his new Stoke City post with the Euro 2020 play-off in March.An agreement between Stoke and the Irish FA means O’Neill stays in charge until the play-off, which…

Northern Ireland Michael O’Neill says combining NI play-off role with Stoke job will be ‘dead easy’

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Michael O'Neill consoles Steven Davis at the final whistle on Saturday after the Northern Ireland captain's earlier penalty miss against the Dutch

Michael O’Neill says he could now name his squad for the Euro 2020 play-off in March

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill insists he will be able to juggle his new Stoke City post with the Euro 2020 play-off in March.

An agreement between Stoke and the Irish FA means O’Neill stays in charge until the play-off, which Northern Ireland guaranteed with Saturday’s draw against the Netherlands.

“It’s dead easy,” said O’Neill.

“We’re going to turn up on a Sunday and play on a Thursday. I can pick my squad now – I could name it tomorrow.”

O’Neill, who took over as Stoke City boss earlier this week, added: “There are not 40 players out there we’re not picking.

“I’ll be able to [prepare for the opposition]. That’s not a problem. Our opponents don’t play between now and then, they’ve already played.

“We’re not going to watch individual players play for their clubs, so the work we have on the opponents, we’ll have that well in advance.”

There has been speculation that O’Neill’s ability to fulfil his Northern Ireland role in March could be in jeopardy if Stoke – now second from bottom in the Championship – remain in a relegation fight come the spring.

However, O’Neill was insistent after Saturday’s 0-0 draw against the Dutch that he would be able to undertake both roles.

“To be honest, there’s nobody better than me to judge this because I actually do the job and the reality of the situation is to put a [new] coach in with a play-off situation with three days’ preparation wouldn’t be fair to the players or the association because of what’s at stake.

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“We know our team, we know our best team. We have one or two players to come back in – Conor Washington and Jordan Jones – but the squad picks itself other than that.”

Saturday’s game may well have proved O’Neill’s Windsor Park farewell with Tuesday’s final Group C fixture in Frankfurt now a dead rubber with the Germans and Dutch having secured qualification.

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