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Davis calls on NI stars to give Bara a headache

Skipper wants fight for starting shirts ahead of crunch Slovakia showdown

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Northern Ireland Manager Ian Baraclough

Northern Ireland Manager Ian Baraclough

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

Northern Ireland Manager Ian Baraclough

Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis has told his team-mates on the fringes of the side to prove to manager Ian Baraclough in Norway on Wednesday night that they deserve to be involved in next month's crunch Euro 2020 play-off final clash against Slovakia at Windsor Park.

Playing a third international in seven days, Baraclough will make changes to his line-up for Wednesday evening's Nations League tie with the free-scoring Norwegians and Davis sees that as a golden opportunity for players to impress.

"You go into every game wanting to win, no matter what. A positive result in Norway would be great for belief and momentum ahead of the Slovakia game but it's also a good opportunity for some of the other boys to go and show what they can do because I'm sure the gaffer will make changes," said Davis, who now has 121 caps to his name.

"In November, everyone will be desperate to play in the play-off final and everyone will be pushing to get a shirt, and this match is a great opportunity to stake a claim."

The Rangers midfielder added: "It's not easy coming away on international trips and maybe not getting the game time you want.

"Everybody is desperate to play. Everybody supports each other but everybody wants that jersey, too.

"If you get the opportunity, you've got to grasp it with both hands.

"There will be changes with the format the way it is at the moment with three games in the space of a week and it will be the same going into the next couple of international breaks, but it provides players who haven't had the game time they want with a real chance to go and show what they are capable of."

Northern Ireland enter the match hoping for their first Nations League victory having lost two and drawn one of their three games so far in this year's competition on the back of losing all four matches under Michael O'Neill in 2018.

Given this is the third match in a breakneck period for the side, boss Baraclough knows the challenge facing his team in Oslo, saying: "This is a tough ask on the players and when you have a pool of players as small as ours, compared to other countries, then it's going to impinge on us more than others."

Belfast Telegraph