Belfast Telegraph

Davis leads way for all our boys across the water

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis is loving life at present. Still on a high after inspiring his country to the Euro 2016 finals with a two goal blast against Greece last month, the midfielder is in sensational form for his club too.

Michael O'Neill raves about the difference Davis makes to his team and Southampton boss Ronald Koeman will tell you the same.

The Dutchman, who has done such a superb job with the Saints, has great trust in Davis, who scored in Sunday's 2-0 Premier League win over Bournemouth.

Others at Southampton may get more headlines, but to Koeman, Davis is the man who helps make his side tick.

In the past couple of years many players have left Southampton for bigger clubs. Crucially though Davis, has stayed, rewarded with a long term contract last year.

Northern Ireland fans know all too well the impact it has on the team when Davis doesn't play - the only game he missed in Euro qualifying was in Romania and that was the one match out of 10 that O'Neill's men lost - and there is a similar fear factor with Saints supporters.

He may be under-rated around the country but not by spectators who watch and admire him on a regular basis.

Come France Davis will be so vital to Northern Ireland...the one genuinely class player comfortable in any company.

His level and consistency is an inspiration to all the Northern Ireland players plying their trade in the professional game.

To give you an idea of the numbers check out these names below. All were in the squads for their clubs at the weekend and they don't include Paddy McNair (Manchester United), Kyle Lafferty (Norwich), Stuart Dallas (Leeds), Aaron Hughes (Melbourne City) and Joe Gormley (Peterborough) who were injured or simply not playing.

PREMIER LEAGUE (5): Chris Brunt, Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley (all WBA), Steven Davis (Southampton), Craig Cathcart (Watford)

CHAMPIONSHIP (8): Chris Baird (Derby), Alex Bruce (Hull), Lee Camp (Rotherham), Michael Duff (Burnley), Liam Feeney (Bolton), Lee Hodson (MK Dons), Oliver Norwood (Reading), Jamie Ward (Nottingham Forest)

LEAGUE ONE (15): Rory Donnelly (Gillingham), Cameron Dummigan, Anton Rodgers, Carl Winchester (all Oldham), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Will Grigg (Wigan), Matthew Lund (Rochdale), Rory McArdle (Bradford), Luke McCullough (Doncaster), Ryan McGivern, Michael O'Connor (both Port Vale), Conor McLaughlin (Fleetwood), Martin Paterson (Blackpool), Michael Smith (Peterborough), Chris Stokes (Coventry)

LEAGUE TWO (17): David Buchanan (Northampton), Roy Carroll (Notts County), Trevor Carson (Hartlepool), Adam Chapman (Mansfield), Jeff Hughes (Cambridge), Michael Ingham (York), Billy Kee, Shay McCartan, Jason Mooney (all Accrington Stanley), Ben Kennedy (Stevenage), Caolan Lavery, Adam McGurk (both Portsmouth), Mark McChrystal (Bristol Rovers), Matt McClure (Dagenham & Redbridge), Paddy McCourt, Josh McQuoid (both Luton), Louis Rooney (Plymouth)

SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP (10): Liam Boyce (Ross County), Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock), Alan Mannus, Eoghan McCawl (both St Johnstone), Niall McGinn, Ryan McLaughlin (both Aberdeen), Michael McGovern, Jamie Sendles-White, Chris Turner (Hamilton), Billy McKay (Dundee United)

SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP (4): Michael Duffy (Alloa), Rory McKeown (Raith), Dean Shiels, Jordan Thomspon (Rangers)

SCOTTISH LEAGUE ONE (1): Caolan McAleer (Airdrie)

SCOTTISH LEAGUE TWO (2): Bryan Gilfillan (Annan Athletic), Joe McGovern (East Fife)

SWEDISH DIVISION TWO (1): Daryl Smylie (Jönköpings Södra IF)

NORWAY DIVISION TWO (1): Robin Shroot (Il Hodd)

DETAILS of all players supplied by Marshall Gillespie.

Belfast Telegraph