Ally McCoist backs Michael O'Neill for Sunderland

A tearful Gareth Mc Auley applauds the fans

Irish FA chiefs have given Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill permission to speak to Scotland, according to Sky sources.

O'Neill resides in Edinburgh and will likely be tempted by the opportunity to manage the Scottish national team.

Scotland are yet to make a major tournament in more than 20 years, and the new boss will be charged with the task of leading them to Euros 2020 and Qatar 2022. However, Rodgers is convinced that the emerging generation of talent - much of it from his club - will provide the new manager with the right ingredients...

"There are a number of candidates who can do the job but it is about what Michael wants to do". "There is a nucleus of a very exciting squad and you go into the European Championship next year and feel you would have a chance of qualifying".

O'Neill took Northern Ireland to Euro 2016, and nearly helped them qualify for the World Cup next summer. Their top players over the next few years will move on.

"I seem to get linked with a lot of jobs and that's a good thing in terms of people recognise that you are doing a good job", Wright said.

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"It is also whether he thinks whether after that period of time does he want to do the day to day job and I am sure that is something he would consider".

Northern Ireland boss O'Neill was quickly identified as the top target to replace Gordon Strachan.

With O'Neill out of contention, another name on their radar is Barnsley's Paul Heckingbottom, who has also spoken about the Stadium of Light vacancy.

"He's devoted his life to them recently, and brought through players and was so very unfortunate not to qualify for the World Cup - I was really gutted for him and the players, because the players have been brilliant over both campaigns".

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright is understood to be a favourite with the IFA to take over, should close friend O'Neill leave his role.

"I have to reiterate, I am happy at St Johnstone".

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