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Steven Davis is NI's answer to Bale, not me says Kyle Lafferty

By Paul Ferguson

Published 24/06/2016

Badge of honour: Kyle Lafferty wants to regain his starting place for the knock-out clash with Wales
Badge of honour: Kyle Lafferty wants to regain his starting place for the knock-out clash with Wales

Kyle Lafferty may have scored the same number of goals as Gareth Bale in qualifying for the Euro 2016 finals, but the Northern Ireland striker insists that is where the comparisons end with the Welsh superstar.

Kesh-born Lafferty was flattered to be considered the Northern Ireland talisman heading into these Euro 2016 finals following his seven sensational goals in reaching France.

Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Pacemaker Press 25/6/2016 Northern Ireland v Wales EURO 2016 Final 16 Northern Ireland Fans during this evening's game at Parc De Princes in Paris. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 25/6/2016 Northern Ireland v Wales EURO 2016 Final 16 Northern Ireland Fans during this evening's game at Parc De Princes in Paris. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland fans apply facepaint outside the stadium, as Wales fans walk behind them, prior to the round of 16 match at the Parc de Princes, Paris. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris.
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris.
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris.
Northern Ireland fan Justin Turner ready to support his side against Wales during Saturdays Round of 16 EURO 2016 match at the Parc des Princes, Paris . Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans ready to support side against Wales during Saturdays Round of 16 EURO 2016 match at the Parc des Princes, Paris . Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Northern Ireland suporters in the stands show their support ahead of the round of 16 match at the Parc de Princes, Paris. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans enjoy the atmosphere outside the stadium prior to the round of 16 match at the Parc de Princes, Paris. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans wave a flag outside a bar prior to the round of 16 match at the Parc de Princes, Paris. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
A Northern Ireland fan in facepaint prior to the round of 16 match at the Parc de Princes, Paris. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
OLBIA, ITALY - JUNE 25: Darren Clarke and Amy Boulden pose with the flags of Northern Ireland and of Wales during The Costa Smeralda Invitational golf tournament at Pevero Golf Club - Costa Smeralda on June 25, 2016 in Olbia, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images for Professional Sports Group )
Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans pose for a selfie in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Helen McConnell and daughter Lottie, wife and daughter of Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Helen McConnell and daughter Lottie, wife and daughter of Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Helen McConnell and daughter Lottie, wife and daughter of Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Vanessa Chung, wife of Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Juneve Lamont, wife of Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland legend Gerry Armstrong greets the fans beside the pitch before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland fans cross the Lagan Weir Foot Bridge in Belfast, enroute to the Titanic Fanzone to watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Northern Ireland fans cross the Lagan Weir Foot Bridge in Belfast, enroute to the Titanic Fanzone to watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Northern Ireland fans cross the Lagan Weir Foot Bridge in Belfast, enroute to the Titanic Fanzone to watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
A young Northern Ireland fan cheers on his side in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland fans in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fan Neil Armstrong from Ballymena in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans Robert McCreadie, Aaron Baxter, Craig Baxter and Farquhar in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fan Aaron Baxter from Newry in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans Ivan Thompson and John Tilson in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans Neil Melville and Colin Maxwell in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans Alison and Chris McHenry in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Jimmy Nesbitt parties with Darren Ryles and friends in Lyon
Jimmy Nesbitt parties with Darren Ryles and friends in Lyon
Jimmy Nesbitt parties with Darren Ryles and friends in Lyon
Northern Ireland fans party with Jimmy Nesbitt in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Jimmy Nesbitt mingles among fans in Lyon. Credit: Green and White Army Caravan in France
Belfast Telegraph journalists Adrian Rutherford and Claire Williamson (right) with Claire Graham.
Northern Ireland football fans descend upon Place Antonin Poncet, adjacent to the fan zone in Lyon, France.
Steven Mawhinney, from Dromore, and friends with Cool FM presenters Pete Snodden and Rebecca McKinney
Steven Mawhinney, from Dromore, with Cool FM presenter Pete Snodden
Steven Mawhinney, from Dromore, in France for the Euro finals
Andrew Kerr (Articlave), Jonno McCaughan (Coleraine), Roger Woodend (New Jersey, USA)
Philip Whyte (42), from South Belfast, and friends stand in front of the Poland team bus
Colin Murray poses with fans in France during the Euros
Mark Hunter (left) from Coleraine who now lives in Vancouver and Matt Livingstone from Coleraine who now lives in London at the Northern Ireland v Poland game on Sunday
Ballyclare man Jonny Lindsay with Jimmy Nesbitt.
Rob Latimer (34) from Dunadry bumps into James Nesbitt in Nice after Northern Ireland v Poland.
Sir Alex Ferguson (centre) in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Pat Jennings (centre) in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Kate Hoey shows her support in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
First Minister Arlene Foster with IFA President Jim Shaw and IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson at Poland V Northern Ireland in Nice, France. Photo by Press Eye
Northern Ireland's players pose ahead of the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France.
Michael O'Neill manager of Northern Ireland looks on prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (centre) during the warm-up before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
A Northern Ireland fan shows her support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans From L-R Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery with Polish fans at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery get a selfie with Polish Fans at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans David , Stuart and Colin Bell at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
Mark Jones and son Jack in Nice with Carl Frampton
Carl Frampton with fellow Northern Ireland fan James Tait in Nice
Northern Ireland supporter and Groom Stuart Stockman (second left) outside the Ma Nolan's Irish pub in Nice, France ahead of his team's opening match against Poland in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 11, 2016. See PA story SPORT Euro2016 StagNI. Photo credit should read: Michael McHugh/PA Wire
Northern Ireland supporters enjoying the sights of Nice, France ahead of the team's opening match against Poland in Euro 2016.
Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans are joined by a Polish football fan as they arrive on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans arrive on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans arrive on the beach near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans Chris Geoghegan and Richard McKnight from Belfast bump into Gary Lineker in France.
Philip Wright on tour with the Green and White army. They left on a 6am flight to Nice.
Ballymacash Northern Ireland supporter's club head off to France. Pic: Andrew Clarke
David Johnston and fellow Northern Ireland fans head off to France.
Crawford McCullough's 'mancave' in Bangor Co Down.
Northern Ireland flags flying in France. Picture: Dennis Russell
Adam Topping (33) from Scarva Northern Ireland in St Raphael. He has tickets all the way to the final so will not be home until July 11.
A Northern Ireland fan samples some ice cream in Lyon, France. Thursday June 9, 2016. PA
Colin Porter passing the time before he heads to Nice. Pic: Gary Porter
Home for Bedfordshire based Dave Price and his pals for the next two weeks at least
Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans on their way to France for Euro 2016. Pic: Gregg Clarke.
Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough and Ian Thompson pictured at the boulangerie in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland Fan Ian Thompson from Ballymena travel threw St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
A Local meets with Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel threw St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans on their way to France for Euro 2016. Pic: Gregg Clarke.
Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans on their way to France for Euro 2016. Pic: Gregg Clarke.
Northern Ireland Fan Russell Bridgett from Ballymena travelling through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough, George McFall, Ian Thompson and Russell Bridgett pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough, George McFall, Ian Thompson, Darren McDonald and Russell Bridgett pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Local family and now Northern Ireland fans pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
The boulangerie in Georges de Reneins, France with its window decorated ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough, George McFall, Ian Thompson and Russell Bridgett pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough, George McFall, Ian Thompson, Darren McDonald and Russell Bridgett pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Local family and now Northern Ireland fans pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland FanRussell Bridgett from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

However, as Michael O'Neill's men prepare to tackle Celtic rivals Wales in their first ever European Championship last 16 clash tomorrow evening at the Parc des Princes in Paris, the 28-year-old hitman is adamant inspirational skipper Steven Davis should be regarded as Northern Ireland's equivalent to Bale.

Lafferty believes Davis, who he played alongside at Rangers during a trophy-laden spell at Ibrox, is the most underrated midfielder at these finals and when he is not in the Northern Ireland team, the men in green simply malfunction.

"The amount of goals I scored in the qualifiers, people obviously think it's all about me. But it's not," admits the Norwich City forward, who is hoping to reclaim the lone striker's role from Conor Washington tomorrow night.

"Steven Davis is our Gareth Bale - he just doesn't get recognised for what he does.

"What Davo does on the ball and what he brings to the team - I remember in the qualifiers, we went unbeaten in the first three games and then we played Romania (with Davis injured).

"There was something missing. We didn't get a touch of the ball, we didn't have any possession at all. It was difficult.

"When we played the Romanians at home it was completely different because Davo was in the team. We had the ball and created chances, and I would say that was down to him.

"In the first game against Poland, with Davo right behind me playing as a No. 10, it excited me because I knew that once he gets on the ball he can pick out a pass.

"Unfortunately we didn't get much of the ball and it was difficult for both of us to have a say in the game. I would argue that if Davo saw more of the ball in that game, things could have been different."

Lafferty, desperate for a move away from the Canaries this summer after being frozen out at Carrow Road last season, had been hoping to make a big impression in France, but his participation has been limited with QPR's Washington starting against both Ukraine and Germany.

It was a bitter blow for the so-called poster boy of the Northern Ireland team to accept. However, Lafferty says he has knuckled down in training and tried to show boss O'Neill that he deserves to be given a second chance.

"There were two ways I could have taken it," states Lafferty. "I could have taken it the hard way and made myself a nuisance around the dressing room and caused problems. But that's not me. If I'm not playing, I'm a Northern Ireland fan. So I put the head down and worked hard in training."

If Lafferty is given a recall by O'Neill then he will once again come up against Swansea City's no-nonsense centre-half Ashley Williams.

Lafferty played against him in the March friendly at Cardiff City Stadium and while he respects the Welsh captain, he is convinced that Williams will not be able to prevent him from having a huge game.

"He's a big, strong, powerful guy but I don't think he's the tallest defender I've come up against. If I turn up there's only going to be one winner," says Lafferty. "Hopefully if Michael gives me the nod to lead the line my head will be focused. What a position we're in. The outcome is massive for us."

On Wednesday night at their luxury Chateau De Pizay base, Lafferty and his team-mates watched the Republic of Ireland against Italy match to find out who they would play in the knock-out stages.

A clash against the hosts France would have been the glamour tie - an encounter the players would have relished in their adopted home of Lyon.

But now facing a game against a team from the home nations after the Republic's win, they have even greater belief that they can make the quarter-finals.

Former Wales midfielder and outspoken pundit Robbie Savage, who was sent off the last time the two teams met in a competitive clash in Cardiff, has stoked the fire by tweeting that this game is like a 'bye' for Chris Coleman's men.

Lafferty's response is simple: "We were written off from the first moment we got here. We were told we weren't going to get a point and probably be the worst team at the tournament.

"We're now in the last 16, and with the belief we have and the belief the fans have in us, we honestly believe we can have a massive say in this tournament.

"Against Wales every single player needs to be on the top of their game. It would have been nice to get France, the home nation in front of their fans. We fancied our chances against France and we believe they're a tougher team than Wales.

"I believe we'll have more of the ball. It will come down to who wants it the most. And I believe that will be us."

  • N Ireland v Wales, Euro 2016 Round of 16: Parc des Princes, Saturday, 5.00pm

Belfast Telegraph

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