Ian Baraclough is keen to extend his contract as Northern Ireland boss beyond the current World Cup qualifying campaign.

Baraclough, who signed an initial 18-month contract when he took over from Michael O’Neill last June, has had a tough start to work but three wins in the last five matches leaves his side still in contention for a qualifying match. held ahead of next month’s trips to Switzerland and Bulgaria.

“For me, I want to continue,” said the 50-year-old. “I think we’re at the start of a cycle of the next generation of Northern Irish players who can take us to a major tournament.

“I have a great belief in this and all the staff and the players. We are moving in that direction and I want to continue.

Northern Ireland remain in contention for a World Cup qualifying spot after last month’s draw against Switzerland (Liam McBurney / PA)

“It’s quite simple. Yes, I signed a first 18 month contract and I hope we can continue our momentum. We are planning for the future with the Irish FA and we are heading in the right direction.

“These things will hopefully take care of themselves.”

Northern Ireland’s goalless draw against Switzerland three weeks ago left Baraclough’s side three points behind Murat Yakin’s side ahead of the rematch in Geneva on October 9.

Baraclough on Tuesday named a 26-man squad for this game – and the next trip to Bulgaria – which included Jonny Evans, Stuart Dallas, Corry Evans and Josh Magennis after being unable to feature last time.

A victory in Geneva would put the fate of Northern Ireland in her hands as they aim for second place in Group C.

“I haven’t set a point goal,” said Baraclough. “The aim is to make sure that we are in turmoil in November with our two home games on which we end the campaign.

“I’m not looking too far ahead, let’s focus on the Switzerland game first and make sure we have a chance to go to Bulgaria, knowing that if we get a result it will keep us in the hunt for November. “

As he aims for a berth at the Qatar World Cup next year, Baraclough has raised concerns over FIFA’s proposals, developed by former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, to organize World Cups every two years – although Northern Ireland could benefit.

Northern Ireland v Switzerland - FIFA World Cup 2022 - European Qualifiers - Group C - Windsor Park
Baraclough has expressed skepticism over FIFA’s plans for a biennial World Cup (Liam McBurney / PA)

“I’m not a big fan of it, I have to say, although it might give us more opportunities to participate in a major tournament,” he said.

“I think the calendar right now, the euros every four years, the World Cup every four years, there’s something special about doing that [qualification].

“No one in our group, except [assistant manager] Jimmy Nicholl qualified for a World Cup, and I think it’s something special for him, how difficult it was to get to those World Cups in 82 and 86. There is something special thing to go to Euro for the guys in the group.

“If it becomes more and more the norm, every two years for a World Cup, then those memories don’t get that special. For Northern Ireland, reaching any major tournament is big, big news, and something that must be special for everyone involved.

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