Belfast Telegraph

It is about time Northern Ireland got what we deserved: Davis

By Stuart McKinley

Steven Davis is determined to ensure that Northern Ireland get the result that they deserve against Russia tonight.

And the international captain is desperate to ensure that the result is a victory after failing to win a game so far as skipper.

Davis has been left scratching his head after every one of the five game in the World Cup 2014 qualifying series.

There was frustration following a decent performance in Russia last September that resulted in a 2-0 defeat.

That was followed by successive 1-1 draws against Luxembourg, Portugal and Azerbaijan, with players, fans and manager Michael O'Neill alike all feeling that Northern Ireland could have won all three games.

Then there was the two sucker punches from Israel in March, with two goals in the final 14 minutes silencing Windsor Park.

"Results haven't reflected performances that we have put in so far in this campaign," he said.

"Russia weren't an awful lot better than us out there.

"There wasn't a great deal in the game.

"They had a lot of possession, which you would expect when they are playing at home, but they didn't cause us too many problems throughout the game.

"There were a lot of positives to take after that performance. The likes of the shape of our team, the fact that we frustrated them and in all honesty we could have done better when we had the ball ourselves.

"We built on that going out to Portugal and getting a result.

"Russia are a well organised team as well who don't concede too many chances, so if we do get the opportunity going forward then we have to take them.

"We know the task ahead and to get anything out of the game we have to be at our very best."

Not only is Davis looking to celebrate a win as captain for the first time, he wants to give the long-suffering Northern Ireland fans a night to remember as well.

"It's a two way thing. The fans can be a massive positive for us and give us a massive lift, but at the same time we have to give them something to cheer about," said Davis.

"I think they have felt the frustration at times as well during this campaign, but if we can all stick together then hopefully we can get a result that will give the whole country a lift.

O'Neill will look to Davis to provide the ammunition for his front players, but the man who is usually the target for the captain's passes won't be there.

Martin Paterson is likely to replace Kyle Lafferty in attack and there may also be a part to play for Jamie Ward – although that would likely mean either Shane Ferguson or Niall McGinn missing out and they seem to be O'Neill's first choice players in the wide positions.

"Kyle is a big player for us, especially as he brings a lot of experience to the front line," said Davis of his former Rangers team-mate.

"He can play that lone striker role very well, he can hold the ball up and he's a target man as well.

"He is going to be missed, but it's going to be a great opportunity for one of the other lads to come in and show what they can do."

Belfast Telegraph


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