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Tuesday 25 September 2018

O'Neill doing 'good job'

Michael O'Neill's first two years as Northern Ireland manager will lead to better things, both now and in the future, according to his assistant Billy McKinlay.

McKinlay, the Fulham coach who arrived as O'Neill's deputy at the start of 2012, is a passionate believer in what the former Shamrock Rovers boss is trying to do with the North.

On paper, a record of one win in 14 matches paints a poor picture of O'Neill's first term, but McKinlay insists the work done outside of the senior fixtures will eventually come good.

O'Neill has thrown himself into the job at all levels, taking a keen interest in grass roots, player eligibility and the appointment of a number of former internationals, including Jim Magilton and Stephen Craigan, to positions within the Irish FA.

The full benefit of that spade work may come after O'Neill and McKinlay have moved on, but the Scot is convinced it is a crucial aspect of the job.

"Behind the scenes, I think Michael has done a really, really good job," said McKinlay, ahead of tonight's friendly in Turkey.

"We knew the infrastructure had to improve and we had to build foundations for now and the future.

"He has had to take decisions and we will now see where that is going to take us.

"I think Michael has done an unbelievable job; he is a highly intelligent and extremely motivated individual.

"Whether or not Michael and I see the benefits of what we are trying to implement isn't something I think about, as long as it stands Northern Ireland in good stead for the future.

"I think the IFA recognise the job Michael is doing with the team."

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