Michael O'Neill: Successor has to be Northern Irish - Stephen Craigan

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright and Motherwell's Stephen Robinson embrace
Tommy Wright and Stephen Robinson are rivals in the Scottish Premiership
European Championship qualifying: Northern Ireland v Netherlands
Venue: Windsor Park, Belfast Date: Saturday, 16 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Ulster and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

Another Northern Irishman has to be chosen to succeed Michael O'Neill as national boss to retain a "connection" with the country, says Stephen Craigan.

And the former Northern Ireland centre-half thinks Motherwell's Stephen Robinson and St Johnstone's Tommy Wright will be among the contenders.

O'Neill has become Stoke City manager but remains in charge until the end of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

"I think they have to go with a Northern Irish manager," Craigan said.

"I think there's a real connection between the whole of Northern Ireland and what they're trying to do.

"We see ourselves as underdogs in a lot of games of football. We're quite a close-knit country even though at times it might not look that way. But, certainly in the football side of things, everyone's close-knit and wants to push in the one direction."

Netherlands are the visitors to Windsor Park on Saturday in what could be O'Neill's final game in charge of the national team.

His side sit third in Group C and finish their campaign against Germany in Frankfurt, but he will remain in charge should his side be involved in the March play-offs.

Whenever Northern Ireland eventually choose a new national boss, Craigan expects former NI Under-21 manager Jim Magilton, who is currently the Irish FA's elite performance director, and former Queens Park Rangers and Crystal Palace boss Iain Dowie to be among the candidates.

"Stephen Robinson will certainly come into consideration, Tommy Wright, Jim Magilton, who is head of the IFA academy effectively will be another one, Iain Dowie I'm sure will look at it," the two-time Motherwell caretaker boss said on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound.

"People will an affinity with Northern Ireland will certainly come into the forefront.

"Stephen and Tommy are both in jobs, they've both been successful in their jobs over a number of years, so it will have to be an attractive proposition for them to leave club football and go into international football."

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