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Steven Davis: I'm itching to get back to Rangers and help put things right after Celtic defeat

Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis
Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis is relishing returning to club duty with Rangers and dealing with the demands and pressure that comes with it.

The Ibrox club have lost only once all season. The problem is it came at home to Celtic in their last game when Neil Lennon's side deserved their 2-0 victory.

The result led to serious criticism for Rangers boss Steven Gerrard and his team, who had been extremely impressive up until then.

Rangers are at home to Livingston on Saturday in the Scottish Premiership and Davis, in his second spell at the club, knows they need a win not just in their bid to stay in touch with Celtic, who are now three points ahead, but also to renew faith amongst the supporters.

"We have a lot of big games coming up. Every week is a big game at Rangers. Everyone knows the pressures of playing for the club, and I know all about the demands, but I'm looking forward to what's ahead and I'm sure everyone else at the club is as well," said 34-year-old Davis, who has been in superb form this season.

"Up until the last game the season was going very well. That defeat was a major disappointment. What we must do is pick ourselves up and not let it affect us moving forward.

"There is still a long way to go in the season and a lot of things to play for. We have to make sure it was only a setback and kick on."

Davis is certain that Rangers have the quality to do that, insisting that the squad is stronger than when he came in from Southampton at the start of 2019.

"I think that is something the manager tried to address in the summer in terms of making the squad as a whole a lot more competitive," said Davis.

"With the number of games we are going to have with Europe and everything else, he is going to have the option to change things around and freshen the team.

"The squad is looking strong but we need to make sure that we keep improving."

On Monday night, in the 2-0 Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Germany at Windsor Park, a proud Davis became Northern Ireland's most capped outfield player, making his 113th appearance at international level, overtaking Aaron Hughes.

The next step for the Rangers ace will be to chase down Northern Ireland's all-time appearance holder; legendary goalkeeper Pat Jennings on 119.

When he wins his next cap in the Netherlands next month he will go level with his club manager Gerrard, who played 114 times for England.

The only other British players ahead of him are England trio Peter Shilton (125), Wayne Rooney (120) and David Beckham (115).

Before that, Davis has another match with Dutch opposition as Rangers open their Europa League group next Thursday with a home tie versus Feyenoord. Also in the group are Porto and Young Boys.

In 2008, he was in fantastic form as Rangers reached the Uefa Cup final.

"I have happy memories from playing in Europe in my first spell at the club and we have some really good ties coming up," said Davis. "It will be a tough group but it's one that I think everyone at the club will look forward to and we will relish the battles ahead."

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