Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland captain Steve Davis has seen enough video nasties for one campaign

By Rory Dollard

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis has admitted that last month's limp display in Luxembourg made for a video nasty when the squad were forced to relive the experience this week.

While the travelling contingent of the Green and White Army were subjected to the full horrors of the live show at the Stade Josy Barthel, many of the players had to wait until they came together in Azerbaijan to revisit the shocking 3-2 defeat.

Davis had already steeled himself with a solo viewing after the match, but he conceded it was no easier when manager Michael O'Neill subjected his charges to an unwanted repeat in the build-up to tonight's clash against the Azeri in Baku.

"I watched the game by myself when I got back from Luxembourg and when we met up this time we watched edited clips of the game," said the Southampton midfielder.

"We've watched the footage back to see what went exactly wrong and it wasn't easy viewing. It was a hard one to take for everybody.

"It was a hard result to go back to your club with."

The whys and wherefores of that match have been much debated – both inside and outside the camp – and with any luck the post mortem will be over if they return with three points from the Bakcell Arena.

That was certainly at the forefront of Davis' mind as he offered his own reflections on the challenge ahead.

He said: "There are a lot of things we have built on and have done well recently – team shape, being difficult to beat, being good in possession.

"The things that we've done against the likes of Russia and Portugal sort of went out of the window last time and we became disjointed.

"That's football, sometimes it throws up nights like that, but we want to go out and show that it was just a blip.

"Hopefully we can show our real qualities in the next two games.

"Ask any player and they want to win games, there's no better feeling.

"On the flip side there's no worse feeling than losing.

"What we need to do now is try and finish this group on a high."

At club level, Davis is enjoying a productive spell with Southampton.

He has started Saints' last three matches, all 2-0 wins, and set up Adam Lallana's opener in the defeat of Swansea on Sunday, a result that moved them into fourth place in the Premier League.

He had faced increased competition since the arrival of Victor Wanyama in the summer, but is proving his worth at St Mary's.

"It's not an ideal situation for some of the lads who are not getting as much regular action," added Davis.

"I'm lucky enough to have got myself back in the team at Southampton and I'm feeling good.

"The team started well, winning games and picking up points so I've been biding my time and waiting for my chance.

"Whenever I've been able to play I think I've done well and given the manager something to think about.

"Hopefully now I can stay in the side."

Belfast Telegraph


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