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Mark McIntosh: Steven Davis should only return to Premier League in his prime

Everton boss David Moyes is hoping to beat off competition from Premier League rivals if Rangers give them any encouragement that Steven Davis has a price on his head.

Sunderland, Wigan Athletic, Bolton Wanderers and Birmingham City are all known admirers and it’s not difficult to see why.

When Davis burst onto the Premier League scene in a blaze of glory in 2004, a new star was born. He quickly established himself as a regular in the Aston Villa side, scooping the Player and Young Player of the Year awards and Manchester United started to watch him with interest.

At international level he was making waves too, becoming Northern Ireland’s youngest ever captain during a 1-0 defeat to Uruguay at the former New York Giants Stadium in New Jersey.

Things could not have been going any better for the diminutive midfielder but within 12 months, he was at his lowest ebb after surprisingly being shown the door at Villa Park by his countryman, Martin O’Neill and after a troublesome six months at Fulham, Rangers, the club of his dreams, came calling.

And what a move it has proved to be. Davis has played the best football of his career — and out of position on the right flank.

His contribution has inspired the Gers to six trophies and a UEFA Cup final appearance in the two-and-a-half years he’s been at the club and life has become something of a Teddy Bears picnic for the Cullybackey man, who married his childhood sweetheart, Tracey, during the summer with daughter Chloe Ava at their side.

Off the pitch he loves life in Glasgow, his modest personality and private nature keeping him away from prying eyes in the Old Firm goldfish bowl.

On the pitch he just gets better and better — even if he struggles to find his goal-scoring as much as he would like. Two goals in 39 internationals is something which particularly irks him, but he never seemed to have a problem when full of confidence with Villa in England’s top flight.

Given the choice, there is no way Davis will want to leave Rangers during Walter Smith’s final year in charge.

There is no doubt that he will eventually go back to England when the time is right but he is not yet in his prime.

This season could well be his biggest test yet with Rangers losing players and Neil Lennon on a spending spree across the city.

But it’s that challenge that could bring out the best in Davis and if he could win a third SPL title on the bounce and make an impression on the Champions League, he could leave an ever bigger hero.

And by that stage, the time would be right for him, and not a club desperate to add to their bank balance.

Belfast Telegraph

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