.

McKinley joins as O'Neill's assistant

Photo Getty Images

Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill has strengthened his backroom staff.

He has appointed Billy McKinlay as his assistant.

The former Scotland midfielder boasts a wealth of coaching experience from working alongside O’Neill for Northern Ireland, in the Premier League with Fulham and Watford and overseas in Spain and Norway.

And the new Potters boss is delighted to have a trusted ally alongside him in the dugout at the bet365 Stadium.

O’Neill said: “Billy and I have known each other since the early 1990's when we were teammates and I’m delighted to welcome him to the staff at Stoke City.

“I’ve seen Billy work at both club and international level and I know that he’s an excellent coach who I believe is a great fit for us.”

McKinlay landed his first coaching job with Fulham in 2005, eventually working his way up to the role of first-team coach under Martin Jol.

He took up a similar role with Watford before being appointed briefly as manager and leading the Hornets to a win and draw (and taking them to third in the Championship in the process) during just eight days in charge.

A move to Spain followed as he served as first-team coach under David Moyes at Real Sociedad before he took charge of Norwegian top-flight team Stabaek, where he stayed for seven months before linking-up again with Moyes at Sunderland.

When Moyes moved south to West Ham United in 2017 McKinlay became one of his assistants alongside Alan Irvine, Stuart Pearce and Chris Woods.

O’Neill and McKinlay’s relationship stretches back to the 90's when they were teammates at Dundee United. McKinlay made more than 200 appearances for United before in 1995 joining then Premier League Champions Blackburn Rovers, where he spent five years.

He also played for Bradford City, Clydebank, Leicester City and Fulham and won 29 Scotland caps, representing his country at both Euro ’96 and the World Cup in France two years later.

More from Local Sport