Scotland target O'Neill

15 November 2017 12:13:04 EST

Scotland want Michael O'Neill to be their next manager and have asked the Northern Irish FA for permission to speak to him.

However, while O'Neill lives in Edinburgh, he could have choices as to where his future may lie.

Northern Ireland want him to stay as boss following their failure to qualify for next summer's World Cup. He could though be tempted by club football with Sunderland thought to be interested in taking him to the Stadium of Light following Simon Grayson's departure.

Northern Ireland's hopes of making Russia 2018 ended at the weekend after they suffered a 1-0 play-off defeat to Switzerland over two legs.

The only goal over the two legs was mired in controversy with the Swiss awarded a penalty for handball, converted by Ricardo Rodriguez, though replays showed that Corry Evans was hit on the back rather than the hand.

So Northern Ireland have failed to qualify for back-to-back major tournaments though O'Neill has remained popular since taking the team to Euro 2016 where they advanced to the knockout stages.

Asked about his future after their World Cup departure, O'Neill said only: "No, I haven't even considered that. Tonight is about being with my players, spending time with them and making sure they are OK.

"As I said to the players themselves, there is no need to make any rash decisions on anything they want to do."

Scotland have appointed former Cardiff boss Malky Mackay on a temporary basis but are stepping up the search for a permanent replacement for Strachan with O'Neill clearly their first choice.

Sunderland meanwhile, have a shortlist of candidates to replace Grayson with Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom thought to be interesting the board of the Championship strugglers.

Sunderland are 6/4 to be relegated at the end of the season while they are 200/1 to finish in the top six.

Brazil are 5/1 to win next year's World Cup with Germany 9/2 and hosts Russia 33/1.

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