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Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington, the former Sheffield Wednesday stalwart, will step down from his post after Tuesday’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Italy.

Worthington’s side have endured a disappointing campaign, and their failure to qualify for the finals was confirmed by a 2-1 defeat at home to Estonia in Belfast on Friday.

They had previously lost 4-1 to the Estonians in Tallinn and suffered a 1-0 home loss to Serbia.

Worthington took over in 2007, and had initially impressed the IFA by guiding Northern Ireland to third place in their World Cup qualifying group.

He said: “I have had four and a half fantastic years working with the Irish Football Association and a lot of hard work has been put in by many people over this time to help improve Northern Ireland football.

“I feel it is only right to give the Association and players the opportunity and time to move forward and that is why I have decided that Tuesday night’s game will be my last in charge.

“It has been a pleasure and I would like to wish the Irish Football Association all the best for the future; and to the supporters who have been fantastic throughout.

“I understand their frustration over the last three games; but when you look at the incident in the Serbia game and the game away to Estonia, and then the game at home against Estonia, this is the fine line in football.”