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Stoke City news and transfer rumours RECAP! Michael O’Neill quizzed on Hearts caretaker, first photo of key man, Q&A


Michael O’Neill quizzed on Hearts caretaker manager

The new Stoke boss has been on the phone to Scottish Sportsound this evening to talk about his number two with Northern Ireland Austin MacPhee.

MacPhee has been caretaker manager at Hearts – and is in the running to be both their permanent manager or new sporting director as they try to make two key appointments in one fell swoop.

O’Neill was asked is he had tried to get him to Stoke as part of his own back room team.

“Kenny (presenter Kenny Macintyre), we’re on here to talk about Austin and he’s under contract at another club!” he laughed.

He changed tact to add: “What he has brought to me is a high level of knowledge on the opposition, creative ways to train – which I think is important particularly in terms of international football when you don’t have very much time to prepare.

“He’s creative in the way he gets information across to the players and I know that in our squad we have players like Jonny Evans, Steven Davis and Craig Cathcart, players who have played at a high level, and he has a lot of respect from those players. His knowledge of the game is good.”

MacPhee has faced criticism for some of his comments while taking charge of Hearts.

But O’Neill said: “Austin is different, there’s no doubt about that. He thinks about the game differently.

“I think Ian Cathro is in a similar mould and to be fair a lot of the criticism of him in the media was unfair. Ian is currently working in the Premier League with Wolves so you don’t get to that level if you don’t have a good knowledge of the game.”

He added: “Austin has a good way of how he thinks about the game and he has a lot of initiative which I think is extremely valuable to Hearts.

“It makes sense to build a relationship with a club like Man City and Austin has played an integral part in building that relationship. It’s come through Northern Ireland because we have that relationship with Man City. He uses the assets he has.”

Hearts caretaker manager Austin MacPhee has worked with Michael O’Neill at Northern Ireland. (Image: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

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