Worthy lined up

PUBLISHED: 11:27 12 May 2007 | UPDATED: 10:17 14 September 2010

Former Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington has emerged as one of the favourites to take over as Northern Ireland boss after Lawrie Sanchez resigned from the post yesterday.

Former Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington has emerged as one of the favourites to take over as Northern Ireland boss after Lawrie Sanchez resigned from the post yesterday.

Sanchez has been appointed as the new boss at Fulham on a permanent basis after guiding the Cottagers to Premiership safety, opening the door for Worthington to become Northern Ireland manager.

Bookies have already installed Worthington as the second favourite behind Aberdeen assistant manager Jimmy Nicholl although several other names have been mentioned including Ipswich Town boss Jim Magilton and Coventry City's Iain Dowie.

Worthington, who earned 66 caps as a player for Northern Ireland, is also in the running for the Leicester City hot-seat although Foxes owner Milan Mandaric revealed that four top candidates have expressed an interest in the post and it is understood that Worthington is well down the pecking order.

If Worthington does take over as Northern Ireland boss he will take on a side in excellent shape to qualify for the Euro 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland.

The national side are currently top of their qualifying group, which contains Spain and Sweden and in David Healy have one of Europe's most in-form strikers.

The Irish FA have yet to comment on what process they will be going through to install a new boss but did issue the following statement:

“The Irish FA is obviously aware of the situation between Fulham Football Club and Lawrie Sanchez and we would be the first to congratulate him on his appointment as their new manager and to recognise the outstanding job he has done for Northern Ireland football and the IFA.”

Sanchez, who will be remembered for masterminding famous victories over England and Spain, admitted the lure of taking on a Premiership club was too much for him to resist.

“I am sad that after three and a half years and seeing Northern Ireland to the top of the group it's come to this,” he said. “I had lots of discussions with Fulham and it became evident that I had to concentrate on one job. I can understand that.

“The Premiership is the show because there's a lot of money involved at this level. If anything went wrong with one or the other, I'd be blamed for not concentrating on either. The compelling reason was you have to give 100pc commitment or else you get

caught between two stalls.

“I wanted to manage here so I had to make the decision. Northern Ireland would have accepted me doing both roles but Fulham would be my main employer so it was up to them.

“I was perhaps a little bit naive to think they could be done together but now the decision has been made I'm very pleased to be Fulham manager.”

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