Ian Baraclough front-runner to succeed Michael O’Neill as Northern Ireland boss

Ian Baraclough managed Motherwell and Sligo Rovers before taking over as NI U21 boss in 2017

Ian Baraclough remains the front-runner to replace Michael O’Neill as Northern Ireland senior manager.

The Englishman was appointed by O’Neill as Under-21s boss and offers the continuity that the IFA is looking for.

It is believed the representatives of the successful candidate were contacted on Friday to sort out terms and conditions of the contract.

Baraclough is the favourite to pip the other four candidates, who are all from Northern Ireland, for the job.

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson was given permission by his club to speak to the IFA, but the club was not contacted on Friday.

The Scottish side had agreed a six-figure compensation fee in advance of any talks.

It is also understood that elite performance director Jim Magilton, former St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright and Northern Ireland women’s manager Kenny Shiels have not received any update from the governing body since their interviews on Wednesday.

Stephen Robinson and Tommy Wright were among the candidates interviewed

Baraclough is Northern Ireland’s most successful Under-21 boss and previously managed Sligo Rovers to the League of Ireland title.

He also secured an FAI Cup success and a Setanta Cup triumph as he revived the club’s fortunes when he took over in February 2012.

This was followed by a move to Motherwell, where he helped ensure the club’s Premiership survival thanks to a two-legged promotion/relegation play-off win over Rangers.

Baraclough has also managed in England at Scunthorpe United, where he finished his playing career.