Belfast Telegraph

European Qualifiers: Team spirit can help us in France, says Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis is convinced the bond that has developed between the players in the successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign will help the team when they play in next year's finals.

Speaking after the 1-1 draw in Finland which secured Northern Ireland's place at the top of the Group F table, the Southampton star said: "We'll never forget the times we've had and this campaign, or the bond we've had - it's been one of the biggest things in this squad is the togetherness and team spirit.

"That doesn't just apply to the ones who have played regularly, everyone has played their part and that's carried us a long way but we've had to show quality, discipline and we have had to throw everything into the mix to get us to where we are now.

"I think nobody would have seen this coming. We had belief we could compete and improve but it's been remarkable, just the turnaround we've had.

"It shows how funny football can be, you win a couple of games and then you have this belief and start to feel you can go out and any game you go into you can win, so it's important we keep this momentum now.

"We've got there, and in many ways the hard work's done. We want to go to France and enjoy the occasion but at the same time we want to give a good account of ourselves."

Davis also feels that the manager Michael O'Neill has some tough selection decisions to make.

"I think so, a big positive of the campaign is that we now have so many players and any of those who have come in have stepped up to the plate," said the captain, who netted twice in the 3-1 victory over Greece on Thursday night to ensure qualification.

"We've got a core group of players and there will be one or two who come into Michael's thinking but now everyone has to go back to their clubs, hopefully do well and make sure they're sharp whenever the games come around and make sure that each and every one of us gets on that plane which we're desperate to do."

Belfast Telegraph