Jonny Evans wants Michael O'Neill to stay as N Ireland boss

Jonny Evans
Jonny Evans missed Northern Ireland's final two Euro 2016 qualifiers against Greece and Finland
Friendly international: Northern Ireland v Latvia
Venue: Windsor Park, Belfast Date: Friday, 13 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC2 NI and the BBC Sport website, also live on BBC Radio Ulster medium wave

Jonny Evans is keen for Michael O'Neill to remain as Northern Ireland manager but believes he has the qualities to succeed in the English Premier League.

The West Brom defender is full of praise for O'Neill, who has led his side to a first European Championships.

"It would be sad for us as players if it got to a situation where he wasn't here. We'd all love him to stay on.

"What I like about him is he won't just settle for what's there, he'll try to improve us as a team," said Evans.

"The fact is he's only with us for 10 days at a time and has improved us as players, as a squad, as individuals."

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Evans eager for N Ireland return after missing final Euro qualifiers

Discussions are under way on a new deal but O'Neill's profile is on the rise and a strong showing in France next summer could see his departure.

Having played the majority of his career under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Evans has a high managerial bar to measure against.

Asked whether the 46-year-old could be just as successful in English football, Evans said: "Yes, I think so.

"If he got hold of a team on a regular basis he would no doubt improve them. His style of coaching is based around thinking about the game, not just running the legs off the lads.

"I could sit down and talk football for hours with him.

"He's a real thinker of the game, which I like, and he looks at things from different angles. I like the way he wants his teams to play.

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O'Neill will not be taking Latvia lightly in friendly

"Michael's made us successful by the way he wants to play - taking the game to the opposition. We've scored goals, we've kept clean sheets.

"He gets everyone playing for him and his tactical understanding is fantastic."

Evans is due to return to the starting XI for Friday's friendly against Latvia.

Injury meant he missed the famous night at Windsor Park last month when victory over Greece sealed a first major tournament finals appearance in 30 years, and the subsequent lap of honour in Finland.

But he was with the squad in Belfast for the build-up and says he is still coming to terms with an achievement many thought would never come.

"It was frustrating from a personal level but putting those feelings aside it was such a big night for the country, for the team, for the manager - I was just so excited for the game, the whole of Northern Ireland was," he said.

"There's a much bigger prize at stake than my own personal achievements. I'm just glad as a country we're able to go to France and represent the country."

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