THE Scottish FA has made an approach for Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill.

Sport Times can confirm that the SFA has contacted its Northern Irish counterpart for permission to speak with the former Brechin City and Shamrock Rovers boss. 

The 48-year-old is the preferred candidate to permanently succeed Gordon Strachan in the Hampden Park hotseat and guide the national team through the Euro 2020 qualifying process.

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O'Neill, who lives in Edinburgh, has been heavily linked with the vacancy since Northern Ireland saw their World Cup hopes extinguished with a 1-0 aggregate play-off defeat to Switzerland on Sunday.

He led the country to its first major tournament in 30 years last summer by guiding his side to Euro 2016, where they reached the last 16.

They then finished second in World Cup qualifying Group C, ahead of the Czech Republic, Norway, Azerbaijan and San Marino but behind runaway group winners Germany.

O'Neill, who had spells with Dundee United, Hibernian and St Johnstone as a player, has a contract until 2020 with Northern Ireland.

But the defeat to the Swiss could see him move on and take on the task of leading Scotland to their first major tournament since 1998.