The Irish Football Association have confirmed talks over Lawrie Sanchez’s future at Fulham will begin after the weekend.
Sanchez was appointed caretaker manager at Craven Cottage last month and has just one game remaining on his short-term contract, with Sunday’s trip to Middlesbrough ending his 32-day spell at the club.
The 47-year-old hopes to make the position permanent after steering Fulham to Barclays Premiership survival and is confident he can carry out the job alongside his Northern Ireland commitments.
He is tied to leading the province at next summer’s European Championships should they qualify and IFA president Jim Boyce is convinced he will continue as coach.
“We agreed nothing would be done until Lawrie completed five games with Fulham,” Boyce said.
“Contact between Lawrie, Fulham and ourselves will take place after that.
“I know Lawrie has already been in touch with (under-21 coach) Roy Millar about the team for their opening European Championship in Moldova on June 1.
“Lawrie has said all along he would stay with us until the end of the Euro 2008 campaign and I still believe that will prove to be the case.”
Fulham secured a seventh successive season in the Premiership with Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool.
Sanchez declared mission accomplished after the match but whether he has done enough to convince chairman Mohamed Al Fayed he should manage the club on a full-time basis is doubtful.
The Cottagers claimed a solitary point – at home to Blackburn – from his first three games in charge and their victory against Liverpool was hardly convincing.
An emphatic triumph at the Riverside could improve Sanchez’s chances but Al Fayed may already have decided he has seen enough.
Much will depend on who is available with Ruud Gullit, Lille coach Claude Puel and Parma boss Claudio Ranieri all linked with a move to south-west London.
Sanchez has already stated he believes he can combine his roles at Northern Ireland and Fulham long term but declared that whoever is appointed at Craven Cottage will be landing an plum job.
“I have been very, very lucky in that I have had more good days than bad days. I enjoy managing,” he said.
“What I will say is that whoever manages this club next season will have fantastic club to work with.
“There are some fantastic people within it, I am talking back-room staff as well as players.
“There are great training facilities and great support. The chairman lets you manage, so whoever is here next year will have a fantastic job.”