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Scottish FA wants Northern Ireland's O'Neill as manager

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The Scottish FA wants Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill to succeed Gordon Strachan as national head coach.

A working party has been discussing potential candidates, but the former Brechin City and Shamrock Rovers boss is now at the top of their list.

The 48-year-old guided Northern Ireland to Euro 2016 but just missed out on World Cup qualification.

O'Neill and his two assistants with Northern Ireland, Jimmy Nicholl and Austin MacPhee, all live in Scotland.

Speculation about O'Neill's future has grown since Northern Ireland lost their World Cup play-off to Switzerland, having been defeated 1-0 in the first leg at Windsor Park then drawn 0-0 in Switzerland on Sunday.

Former Scotland striker Kris Boyd told BBC Scotland: "Michael O'Neill has done a fantastic job with Northern Ireland.

"From a football point of view, Michael's first thought is to defend. He's got Premier League defenders in the Northern Ireland squad, we don't have that.

"When you look at Northern Ireland, they already had that base there.

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"It's pretty difficult coming into international football with Scotland and trying to build that from a defensive base when we don't have defenders.

"If he does leave, he probably will want a club job."

Fellow BBC pundit Michael Stewart believes that O'Neill would have a foundation of promising full-backs to build on if he decided to leave Northern Ireland for Scotland, who have not qualified for the finals of a major tournament since 1998.

"If you look at Scotland: [Andrew] Robertson and [Kieran] Tierney and Callum Paterson or Tony Ralston perhaps in a couple of years, that's not a bad base to build from," he said.

"Yes, centre-half is still a concern, but if you put the team and you structure it correctly, there's a basis to build from.

"If I was Michael O'Neill, I wouldn't be looking at the Scotland back-line and thinking, 'that's a disaster, I'm not taking it'.

"There's foundations in that Scotland team and then, when you look further forward, I think that's where we've got greater strength."

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