Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis urges players to seize opportunity and see off Greece to secure Euro place

By Steven Beacom

Captain Steven Davis has urged those coming in to replace Northern Ireland's suspended players to seize their chance against Greece in the Euro 2016 qualifier next month.

Davis admits that not having the banned Kyle Lafferty, Chris Baird and Conor McLaughlin available for the Thursday, October 8 showdown with the Greeks at Windsor is a big blow.

The trio are ruled out after cards picked up in Monday's last gasp 1-1 draw with Hungary.

But Davies insists this is a golden opportunity for others to shine in a game that, if won, will see Northern Ireland reach the European Championship finals for the first time in their history.

Manager Michael O'Neill already has replacements in mind for three of his most influential players in the campaign.

Experienced Aaron Hughes is expected to come in for McLaughlin at right back, young Manchester United ace Paddy McNair is primed to take over Baird's holding midfield role and Josh Magennis is lined up to cover for the free scoring Lafferty.

Chris Baird's dismissal against Hungary was right call rules chief

The Northern Ireland boss may also consider playing a different system which could see Jamie Ward, injured for the Faroe Islands and Hungary games, play a more significant role in attack.

Whoever is chosen, Davis expects them to deliver.

The Southampton midfielder stated: "For the Greece game we have a few suspensions which is obviously a blow but they give others an opportunity to come in and show what they can do.

"It will be a great opportunity for the players coming in to put in big performances and hopefully help take the team to the Euro finals. It was always going to be a squad effort through the campaign and we just need one last push now."

Belfast Telegraph