Belfast Telegraph

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We'll learn from pain to reach next finals

NI skipper Davis still feeling hurt of missing out on Russia

By Steven Beacom

Captain Steven Davis wants Northern Ireland to use the pain of not being at this year's World Cup finals to drive them on to qualify for the next one and Euro 2020.

Michael O'Neill's men lost out in controversial circumstances to Switzerland in a play-off in November after a questionable penalty decision went against them.

Instead of playing in the tournament, which starts today with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia in Moscow, the Northern Ireland players will watch holders Germany, Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain, England and others go for glory over the next month.

Writing in a special World Cup column for the Belfast Telegraph, Southampton star Davis says Northern Ireland must learn from their disappointment and make it count in future tournaments.

"I have to admit it took me a long time to get over losing the World Cup play-off to Switzerland in November," national skipper Davis admits.

"It was definitely the worst I've ever felt coming off a football pitch and obviously with the finals about to start the memories come back.

"It may have been the last opportunity for a lot of the squad to play in a World Cup finals. It was a really sore one to take.

"It would be brilliant to be looking forward right now to playing in the tournament and it's a massive blow not to be there but we need to pick ourselves up and go again.

"We have to use that disappointment and pain to try and qualify for the next Euro finals and the next World Cup.

"Any experience can prove to be a good experience over time.

"We can use the experience that we gained and hopefully it can stand us in good stead in the future."

Belfast Telegraph

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