Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland don't fear Swiss and will be 'bang up' for World Cup play-off, vow Davis and McAuley

 

By Adam McKendry

Captain Steven Davis believes Northern Ireland have an excellent chance to reach the World Cup finals in Russia having been drawn against Switzerland.

The Southampton midfielder, who will reach a ton of caps when he leads his side out against the Swiss at Windsor Park on November 9, echoed manager Michael O'Neill's sentiments that Vladimir Petkovic's men were the side they wanted to face most.

"We will certainly not underestimate the Swiss but I believe this is a good opportunity for us to progress," Davis said.

"They have good talent throughout their squad. They are a strong unit."

The 32-year-old also admitted he was delighted to be bringing Switzerland to Belfast in the first leg.

Switzerland will make the trip to Windsor Park in midweek before welcoming Michael O'Neill's men to St Jakob Park in Basel on Sunday November 12, but Davis believes this puts Northern Ireland at an early advantage.

"Playing at home first will hopefully give us an opportunity to get off to a good start," he said.

Veteran defender Gareth McAuley, who returned from injury to play in the defeats against Germany and Norway, added that the team would need very little motivation to perform over the two matches.

"We will all definitely be up for it. We know the prize at the end of it is massive," the West Brom defender pointed out.

"We all had a taste of a major tournament at Euro 2016 and to go to another major tournament would be incredible. Everyone will be bang up for the play-off."

And, like Davis, the 37-year old isn't worried about the quality of the opposition.

"They are a good side and they have been on a good run. However, their qualifying group was not the most difficult. They are strong but not to be feared," he added.

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