Steve Lomas says that Premier League teams could come for Michael O'Neill after his success with Northern Ireland
Premier League teams could come for Michael O’Neill after the job he has done with Northern Ireland, says former midfielder Steve Lomas.
The former Shamrock Rovers boss oversaw the team’s path to Euro 2016 – their first major tournament in 30 years – and could also secure a spot at the 2018 World Cup if they beat Switzerland in a two-legged play-off, live on Sky Sports.
He has done so with few Premier League players in his side and former Northern Ireland international Lomas believes the stellar job done by O’Neill could spark top-flight interest.
“If he qualifies, I can see Premier League clubs coming for him because of the job he’s done,” he said on The Debate.
N Ireland vs Switzerland
November 9, 2017, 7:00pm
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“If you’re a managing director and you look at what he’s done with Northern Ireland, regardless of where he’s been previously, although he did a great job at Shamrock Rovers by getting them into Europe.
“If you look at managers who can get teams organised, can get them to overachieve, can be tactically aware of the opposition, Michael ticks all the boxes.”
Thursday’s match at Windsor Park is set to be a momentous occasions for captain Steven Davis, who will collect his 100th international cap if he makes it onto the field, and Lomas heaped praise on the “underrated” Southampton man.
“I’ve watched him develop and I think he is one of the most underrated midfielders in the Premier League,” he added.
Steve Lomas has called Steven Davis 'the most underrated Premier League midfielder' and says Northern Ireland must stick to their game plan against Switzerland
“I think he could play in any of the top four teams, he’s that confident on the ball, tactically aware and very mature. He can nick a goal, I’ve seen him play off the front man at Southampton, in defensive midfield and on the left so he’s versatile.
“He has good game temperament and knowledge of the game across all positions so I think he is very underrated.”
The first leg against Switzerland is the next task up for Northern Ireland – which will be shown live on Sky Sports Main Event – and Lomas has urged his country to stick to their game plan.
“We’ve got to be careful because the way we play, we are very structured and play with a shape. If we go too gung-ho, we can get picked off,” he said.
“But with that being said, at Windsor Park, they want us to go forward so it’s about controlling those emotions and sticking to the game plan and not getting to carried away.
“Yes, Switzerland have strengths, with people like Xherdan Shaqiri who have to be dealt with because he is a major threat for them.”
Watch Northern Ireland v Switzerland on Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm on Thursday and the return leg from 4.30pm on Sunday November 12.