David Healy is the future of Northern Ireland, but the Irish Football Association should back Ian Baraclough for now, says Lee Doherty.

Linfield legend and former Northern Ireland international Lee Doherty is hopeful the Irish Football Association won’t push Ian Baraclough into contact.

Fans booed the Northern Irish manager during and after this month’s unsuccessful Nations League quad which now sees his record of just three wins in 20 competitive matches.

During a 2-2 draw at home to Cyprus, part of the Windsor Park Kop stand chanted: “We want Bara to go.”

Baraclough rebuffed the doubters, saying that he was rebuilding the squad and giving young players a chance to develop at this level.

The Englishman added that he remained committed to the work and would remain in charge unless told otherwise.

Irish Football Association officials are worried about the poor results, but they would suffer a serious financial blow if Baraclough is sacked now.

The 51-year-old signed a two-year contract to remain in charge of the Nations League and Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, and the Irish Football Association said the contract would be extended again if Northern Ireland reached the 2024 European Championship final in Germany.

There is currently unrest among the Green and White army as some supporters want Linfield manager and Northern Ireland top scorer David Healy to be considered for the post, but former Blues captain Doherty says the timing is not right.

“I think Ian did the right thing by bringing in young players, he is not a club manager who can buy players,” Doherty said.

“It takes time with young players and it’s difficult, but the Irish Football Association should give it a chance.”

Doherty stated, “The results weren’t as good as he had hoped, but you need to give the youth a chance and I will still support him because he stands up and accepts criticism.

“We have to be patient and I’m sure he spoke to the IFA about bringing in young players.

“It’s also great that he chose Conor McMenamin as it gives hope to other players in the Irish League.

“We have had Irish League players on World Cup teams like George Dunlop, Felix Healy and Jim Cleary so the door has to be open for our players but the difference now is that many of our players are not playing at a high level.

“I’m not sure if David has enough experience to go directly to the Northern Ireland Post. Linfield has just had a full-time job for the season.

“Hopefully David doesn’t leave Linfield but he could move to an English Championship club and gain experience. I think you need to be older to be an international manager, around 50 is a good age. It all depends on who is available and his name will be on the list, but hopefully David will move to England and Ian is still looking after the international team.”

With Linfield winning four league titles, Healy must have come under the radar of clubs in England and Scotland, and Doherty is amazed that Killily’s player has not received much interest.

“I always wonder why our managers don’t get moves,” added Doherty, who has won 20 trophies, including eight league titles, at Windsor Park. “Why didn’t David Jeffery move to England or Scotland?

“David Healy played there, and he has a name and a reputation that can play into his hands. Oran Kearney was successful at St Mirren, but we were always poor relatives.

“Linfield are the pinnacle of the Irish league, trophies are expected of them and their manager is under scrutiny. I don’t understand the criticism David is getting, but this is the age of social media and it’s too easy to criticize people.”

Ballymena United, meanwhile, confirmed that defender Kaolan Lofran has extended his contract with the club by one year, while goalkeeper Sean O’Neill has signed a three-year deal.

And Coleraine announced that Alex Ghosn has signed a new two-year contract with The Showgrounds. The striker will now spend the 2022/23 season on loan at Carrick.