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Michael O'Neill 'will not think he is above Scotland job'

Assistant Austin MacPhee says his Northern Ireland boss is a wanted man after success.

Michael O'Neill will not believe he is above the Scotland job, according to Northern Ireland and Hearts assistant Austin MacPhee.

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan established O'Neill as his number one target last month, approaching his counterparts in Belfast for permission to open talks with the Northern Ireland manager.

There has been little movement since, with O'Neill confirming talks have begun over a four-year extension with his current employer.

MacPhee, who doubles as both O'Neill's and Jam Tarts boss Craig Levein's right-hand man, played down talk the 48-year-old may perceive a move across the Irish Sea as beneath him but reckons O'Neill's services will not come cheap.

Speaking at Hearts' press conference, he said: "He's a fantastic manager and there will be speculation about him all the time.

"I don't think anybody would ever be above the Scotland job. (Sir) Alex Ferguson would never say he was above the Scotland job.

"But naturally he is now in a financial bracket which links you to some jobs and not others."

He added: "I mean, Brechin are not going to come calling now and that's because of the financial bracket he is following the success he has had.

"There are pros and cons in lots of different jobs. If Alex Ferguson says he is not above the Scotland job, and I haven't asked Michael specifically, then I certainly wouldn't say Michael was."

'Ian's record wasn't great but I do think he has the skills and ability to be a fantastic coach.'
Austin MacPhee on Ian Cathro

O'Neill is one of five managers MacPhee has worked with in ten years as a coach.

He moved to Hearts alongside the now departed Ian Cathro, a manager he still believes is destined for success in the game despite his struggles.

MacPhee said: "I've worked with five managers over ten years and they all see football differently.

"Ian's education in football coaching came abroad so unquestionably that's a higher standard than here.

"Whereas Craig has hundreds of games in the Scottish Premiership, which hasn't evolved that much since he was a manager here last time. He knows what works in this league to make the team win."

He added: "Your ideas will be somewhat different and maybe, at times, more suited to foreign players.

"Ian's record wasn't great but I do think he has the skills and ability to be a fantastic coach."

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