Date: 15th May 2007 at 11:44am
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Jimmy Nicholl is emerging as the number one candidate for the Northern Ireland manager`s job, so much so that there have at present been no other possibilities announced.

Losing Nicholl would be a huge blow to Jimmy Calderwood but the Dons boss is not convinced that his most trusted assistant would want the job after losing out to the vastly less experienced Lawrie Sanchez.

Calderwood said of Nicholl being overlooked despite the public voting 95% in favour of the then Dunfermline assistant, ‘In my eyes, he should have got it last time. The punters wanted him but the committee didn’t take him.’

Since Sanchez has made his move to Fulham at the Premiership full time, Northern Ireland are in the hunt again and Irish FA supreme Gerry Armstrong reckons this time Nicholl has to get the job.

‘In my eyes, he should have got it last time. The punters wanted him but the committee didn’t take him.’ Armstrong reckons it might be a different story this time.

He was a huge pal of Nicholl’s during an era when Northern Ireland reached two World Cup Finals in 1982 and 1986 and reckons the Dons No.2 is a terrific candidate for the job.

Armstrong said: ‘Jimmy Nic is different class. I phone him every couple of weeks and he is a brilliant guy. There is no doubt about his quality. Jimmy knows the people of Northern Ireland and knows what they want.

‘He knows the personnel at the FA and he also knows football inside out. He has been a player and coach for 30 years and there is nothing you would need to tell Jimmy about Northern Ireland.’

The only thing that would perhaps be an issue concerns the current playing staff. They are a relatively new bunch and although Jimmy would know a few of them he might not know them all.

‘Most of our boys are playing in the lower leagues of England, so he’d need to find out about them.’

Jimmy and Gerry go back a long time and played in two World Cups together, another possible draw for Aberdeen`s popular number 2.

Armstrong said, ‘Jimmy and I had a ball when we were in the squad. We went into the national set-up at the same time. He was playing for Manchester United and I was at Tottenham and we came through together.

‘It was a fantastic 10 or 12 years and qualifying for the two World Cups were the icing on the cake. It would be a huge plus if Jimmy got the job because he’s been there and done it and the players would respect that.’

Should Nicholl go, who would be a good replacement for Calderwood?

ould Neale Cooper step up or would Calderwood perhaps scour Holland for someone off the radar?

What`s your view, who would be the candidates?

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