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By ESPN Staff

Sanchez to see out contract at NI

Lawrie Sanchez has vowed to remain as Northern Ireland manager for the remainder of his contract after considering quitting over a lack of support from the media.

Sanchez did not turn up for a post-match press conference after the 3-2 victory against Spain in midweek, fuelling speculation he would not be in charge for the rest of the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.

Irish Football Association president Jim Boyce then had a 'long and amicable, private conversation' with Sanchez to discuss the personal issues which prompted his actions, and the former Wimbledon midfielder - whose deal finishes at the end of the qualifying campaign - wants to carry on.

A statement from Sanchez read: 'After discussions with the IFA and largely thanks to the tremendous messages of support I've received from the people of Northern Ireland, I have decided to continue in my role for the remainder of my contract.

'There has been speculation linking me with managerial positions in England but I categorically deny the underlying events of the past few days have been sparked by any desire to return to club football.

'I hope we can now put this series of events behind us and continue working for the benefit and progress of Northern Ireland football. With the continued support of the fans, I am certain that the team will produce many more performances as memorable as Wednesday's victory.'

Sanchez masterminded last season's famous victory over England and, despite a disappointing result against Iceland last weekend, guided Northern Ireland to another unexpected win when they defeated Spain.

He felt the improvements under his management - they have climbed the FIFA world rankings as well - were not reflected in the media.

'Despite these successes, the level and ferocity of the criticism from certain sections of the media has astonished me,' the statement continued.

'Certainly the Northern Ireland team deserve more respect for what we have achieved and the progress that has been made these past three seasons.

'Criticism is part and parcel of football but some of the criticism has been out of all proportion, especially when considering the team had not won for 15 matches and had failed to score in 1298 minutes before I took over.'

The statement added: 'It led me to question whether I wanted to continue as Northern Ireland manager and if the team could continue to make such progress in this climate of negativity.'