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Lawrie Sanchez has resigned as Northern Ireland manager to take over at Fulham.

The 47-year-old has been handed an “indefinite, rolling contract” after steering Fulham to Premiership safety following a spell as caretaker boss.

He said: “Obviously it is disappointing to not be taking Northern Ireland to the European Championships.

“But having discussed this at length with the chairman and the board, I understand the importance of focusing solely on the task ahead.”

The IFA will be considering its position over the next few days

Sanchez took over from Chris Coleman for the last five games of the season, and it was initially thought he may combine managerial roles with Fulham and Northern Ireland.

But Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed wanted Sanchez to concentrate on matters at Craven Cottage.

Sanchez added: “Northern Ireland will be a great job for someone and I leave the team in good shape with them at the top of their Euro 2008 qualifying group.

“I wish them all the best for the future. They’re disappointed but I hope they understand my actions.”

The Irish Football Association released the following statement on their official website www.irishfa.com: “The Irish FA is obviously aware of the situation between Fulham Football Club and Lawrie Sanchez.

“And we would be the first to congratulate him on his appointment as their new manager and to recognise the outstanding job he has done for Northern Ireland football and the IFA.”