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Last Updated: Friday, 21 January, 2005, 14:48 GMT
Sanchez set to extend NI contract
Northern Ireland have made progress during Sanchez's first year in charge
Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez is poised to sign a two-year extension to his contract.

The ex-Wycombe boss, who celebrated a year in charge on Friday, aims to stay on when his current deal expires after the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign.

He has held talks with the Irish FA chief Howard Wells and the extension could be finalised in the coming weeks.

"I am very happy and want to continue in this job," the Northern Ireland boss told the Belfast Telegraph.

Sanchez is keen to lead the team in the next European Championship campaign as well.

"I've had initial discussions with Howard and I hope to agree a new deal and extend my time for another two years."

While Northern Ireland have made progress under Sanchez, qualifying for the World Cup finals in Germany remains a tall order.

They would probably have to beat both the top two, England and Poland, in back to back matches in Manchester and Warsaw in March to rekindle their hopes.

Sanchez said: "We aren't out of contention but it is going to be extremely difficult now.

"However if we continue to improve I feel we will have a better chance to give qualifying a real go in the European Championships."

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