Belfast Telegraph

We can learn from world champions, insists Davis

By Steven Beacom

Skipper Steven Davis is confident that the Northern Ireland players can learn from their defeat to Germany at Windsor Park and insists they should not be disheartened by the result.

The world champions were too slick and strong for Michael O'Neill's men, winning 3-1 to secure their place at next year's finals in Russia with goals from Sebastian Rudy, Sandro Wagner and Joshua Kimmich ahead of the hosts' injury time consolation from Josh Magennis.

O'Neill's side were rocked by Rudy's superb strike on two minutes and had a mountain to climb from that moment on, with Southampton star Davis saying: "It was a very difficult night like we expected. The game plan we had went out of the window after the first couple of minutes when they scored. It was a big blow to us that early in the game and it was difficult to recover with the quality they have.

"The message going out was anything they get, make sure they earn it. It was a top quality strike and there wasn't much we could do about it. I thought, though, the character the boys showed was great. There is never a question of that and we kept plugging away and got our reward when Josh scored his goal.

"It's important we don't get too disheartened because we are playing the number one team in the world with a lot of quality. Hopefully we can learn from that. I believe we can.

"They are very good. They test you all the time with the positions they take up and their movement. Sometimes it feels like they have an extra man on the pitch. They are very clever. But this game is over now and we need to pick ourselves up and finish the job."

It is possible, should other results go Northern Ireland's way, that O'Neill's men will have made the World Cup play-offs by the time they kick-off in Norway on Sunday night.

Davis is determined to win in Oslo and secure a seeding spot for the play-offs, adding: "The seeding situation is important and there are so many permutations so we just have to go out to Norway and try and pick up a positive result and put ourselves in as strong a position as possible and guarantee a play-off spot. Then if we are seeded that is a massive boost as well."

Now on 98 caps, the ex-Rangers hero added: "We can definitely take some positive signs from the Germany game.

"We created a few chances with Conor Washington's shot hitting the bar and Josh scoring, so I think over the three games we have played against Germany recently we have improved in that area."

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