Ian Baraclough: Northern Ireland manager to have contract extended

Ian Baraclough leads Northern Ireland training
Baraclough signed an 18-month contract when appointed to the role in June 2020

Ian Baraclough will continue as Northern Ireland manager beyond the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign after the Irish Football Association agreed to extend his contract.

Negotiations regarding the length of the extension are ongoing.

Baraclough took the role on an 18-month contract back in June 2020 following the departure of Michael O'Neill.

That deal was set to expire upon the conclusion of the current qualifying campaign.

The 50-year-old has long made clear his desire to stay beyond the initial deal, repeatedly stating his intention to expand the existing player pool and bringing through a new generation of young players with an eye on Euro 2024.

He stepped into the role having previously managed the under-21s when O'Neill was at the helm of the senior side.

Early in Baraclough's tenure Northern Ireland reached the Euro 2020 play-off final but lost to Slovakia, while their hopes of reaching next year's World Cup in Qatar were ended with three games remaining following a defeat by Switzerland earlier this month.

Despite just four wins in 18 games, Baraclough's determination to bring through youth has provided some cause for optimism with the emergence of the likes of Daniel Ballard, Ali McCann, Ciaron Brown and Conor Bradley, all of whom have made an impact in the first team, while injury saw a number of senior players including centre-back Jonny Evans miss out on recent fixtures.

Northern Ireland will round off their current qualifying campaign with back-to-back home games next month against Lithuania and European champions Italy, before attentions turn to Euro 2024 qualifying.

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