Gordon Strachan has turned Scotland's fortunes around - Michael O'Neill

Gordon Strachan
Gordon Strachan's Scotland are unbeaten in their past four games

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has praised Gordon Strachan for reviving Scotland's World Cup qualifying campaign.

O'Neill's side are assured of a second-placed finish and Scotland are also in contention for the play-offs.

Strachan's Scots beat Lithuania and Malta in their recent double-header.

"I think they've given themselves a chance and it's a great job he's done to turn it around," O'Neill said of his Scotland counterpart.

Scotland, who drew with England and beat Slovenia earlier this year, are level on points with Slovenia, who have a superior goal difference, and are a point off second-placed Slovakia.

Slovakia visit Hampden next month before Scotland finish their campaign away to Slovenia, who will have played England at Wembley by then.

"Scotland have got the points at the right time," O'Neill said on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound. "To get 10 from the last 12 is phenomenal.

"Slovakia, Slovenia - they're going to be thinking, 'well, the momentum's with Scotland now'.

"They had missed the chance possibly early in the group with the results but they've got it now at the right time."

Michael O'Neill
O'Neill is regularly seen at domestic matches in Scotland

O'Neill led Northern Ireland to the Euro 2016 finals but in their previous campaign his side finished second bottom of their World Cup qualifying group.

"We had a point where I felt with some of our players that they really didn't enjoy playing for Northern Ireland," he explained. "They felt a burden and they found it very difficult when they came away.

"Now, it's a totally different scenario but you have to change that mentality.

"I think Scotland are virtually there now - the positivity that's there. Once you get there, the key is to hang on to it at that point in time and I know that the Scottish public are crying out for it."

Having played for six Scottish clubs, O'Neill started his managerial career at Brechin City and took on the job of managing his country after a spell at Shamrock Rovers.

"I think in many cases Gordon's job is tougher because I'm not leaving big players out of my team," he added. "When I name my squad, there's no debate about who I leave out of my squad.

"Gordon has a situation where when he leaves players out of the squad, the media debate who should be in, who should be out.

"And I think that, at times, it's almost like noise around the squad that you could do without."

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