Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland can make it to the last 16 in France, says Davis

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis has insisted that qualifying for the knockout stages of the Euro 2016 finals is STILL a realistic target despite being handed one of the most challenging and difficult draws possible.

Michael O'Neill's team will face World Champions Germany, Poland, with the outstanding Robert Lewandowski leading their attack, and a dangerous Ukraine outfit in Group C in France next June.

Northern Ireland will be huge underdogs in that group with most expecting them to finish bottom of the table.

Davis, though, has other ideas. The Southampton midfielder was an inspirational force in the successful qualifying campaign and believes Northern Ireland can provide enough shocks in France to finish in the top two in the group and automatically reach the last 16 or go through as one of the four best third placed sides.

"There's no question it is another step up from the group we were in for qualifying but this is what we have been working for," said Davis (pictured).

"We have belief in ourselves and each other so we believe we can get out of this group and we will be embracing the challenge, not running away from it.

"People will see us as outsiders but we know getting through to the last 16 is a realistic target.

"Our aim when we qualified was to make the knockout stages and that remains the same even if the group draw is a very tough one."

Belfast Telegraph