Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland can repeat the trick, says Davis

By Stuart McKinley

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis believes Michael O'Neill's young squad is equipped to rock Cristiano Ronaldo and co's World Cup dreams after doing the same to Russia just three weeks ago.

And after the 11 heroes of the stunning 1-0 win against Fabio Capello's team gave O'Neill a selection headache for Friday night's clash with Portugal at Windsor Park, David thinks that Northern Ireland are now in a stronger position to get another famous win.

"We have put a lot of work in since Michael took over and we hadn't really got our rewards, so it was nice to get it against Russia and get a big scalp," said Davis.

"It's been a difficult period, but we all knew it was a time of transition, it was a young team against Russia, but it's a team that is growing.

"It was great to get the win and you relish and enjoy every one. Russia are a great side.

"Hopefully this gives us a good platform to build on and we can go out and have a go against Portugal."

Jonny Evans, Kyle Lafferty and Chris Brunt all missed the Russia game, through illness, injury and suspension respectively.

Those three players are now back in situ and O'Neill will spend the next three days trying to decide whether to stick with a winning team or send what would be his strongest starting line-up – on paper at least – into battle against Portugal.

"We were missing a lot of important players and a bit of experience in Chris Brunt, David Healy, Chris Baird and Paddy McCourt," said Davis.

"Then we lost Kyle Lafferty to injury and Jonny Evans wasn't able to play because of illness

"They are all important members of our squad.

"Chris Brunt, Kyle and Jonny coming back we'll be stronger for it."

Davis also believes that quality wins out over quantity for O'Neill.

"I think that we have a good pool of players, although we don't have a lot of number to chose from," he said.

"The squad doesn't change that much from match-to-match and we're smaller than a lot of other nations, but there is a lot of quality there and there are players who aren't really experienced at international level, but night's like bating Russia will stand them and Northern Ireland in good stead for the future."

e NORTHERN Ireland international Josh Carson has left Ipswich Town by mutual consent.

The 20-year-old had 12 months left on his contract, but had been made available to other clubs by manager Mick McCarthy at the end of last season. Carson spent time training with Bristol City, Notts County and Hibernian during the summer, but is now a free agent.

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