Belfast Telegraph

My room-mate Davis in class of his own: Baird

By Steven Beacom

Room-mates, friends, one time club colleagues and long time international buddies, Steven Davis and Chris Baird have spent a lot of time together for more than a decade.

And they hope to share much more with Northern Ireland all the way to France next year.

Baird, in the holding midfield role, is now one of Michael O'Neill's most influential figures in the side, but the Derby County ace insists everyone in the squad knows who the main man is - the skipper who excelled in the successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

"We're so glad he's our captain and our leader," said Baird.

"He has shown over this campaign, but not only this campaign, how important he is. He's always been the stand-out performer and he is so consistent. He's been absolutely tremendous for us over the years."

Baird felt it fitting that Davis scored twice last month in the 3-1 victory over Greece to send Northern Ireland to France.

"I said to him before the Greece game 'I fancy you to score'. I didn't expect two! He was buzzing though. He was happy from a personal point of view, for the team and the achievement of making the finals."

Back with their clubs, Davis, who scored the winner in Friday's 1-0 victory over Latvia, is certain to play for Southampton against Stoke at the weekend, but his former Fulham team-mate Baird may have to settle for a place on the bench for Derby when they face Cardiff City.

Baird said: "It's just a case of waiting and biding my time. God forbid injuries happen, but you'll have suspensions and so on.

"It's a long season in the Championship, so I expect to play.

"If I didn't and it was nearing the end of the season, I'd maybe have to sort something out in terms of going out on loan. That's further down the line."

Belfast Telegraph