Michael O’Neill agrees deal to return as Northern Ireland manager

<span>Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Michael O’Neill has agreed to return for a second spell as Northern Ireland manager and his appointment is due to be announced this week.

The 53-year-old was in charge from December 2011 to April 2020, during which he led his country to Euro 2016, Northern Ireland’s first major tournament in 30 years. The team reached the last 16 before losing to Wales.

For the final months of that stint O’Neill combined his duties with managing Stoke but he left the Northern Ireland job to concentrate on the Championship club after the Euro 2020 playoffs were postponed by the pandemic.

O’Neill was sacked by Stoke in August and is taking over from Ian Baraclough. Baraclough was sacked in October after avoiding back-to-back Nations League relegations on goal difference.

Northern Ireland are in a Euro 2024 qualifying group with Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Kazakhstan and San Marino. That campaign opens in March for O’Neill with games away to San Marino and at home to Finland.