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Steven Davis leading the Northern Irish charge in Scotland

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Steven Davis

Steven Davis

Steven Davis

Steven Davis. Record breaker for Northern Ireland, respected throughout football and a Rangers legend. What more has he to achieve? Plenty would be the midfielder’s answer to that question.

The 36-year-old was sensational last season, setting the tone for the rest of Steven Gerrard’s side, leading to a first Scottish Premiership success at Ibrox since 2011.

It wasn’t just domestically that the Northern Ireland skipper excelled. In Europe, he was superb too and is relishing playing in the Champions League again this term for his boyhood team.

Once more he will be a key figure for Gerrard as Rangers attempt to retain their title and make an impression in European football. The desire for Davis will be as strong as ever when the new campaign kicks off against Livingston next weekend.

“Once you win something it gives you that appetite to have that feeling again and again,” said the former Southampton star.

“The boys will have that desire. That’s something about the manager, he demands a lot from the boys and keeps pushing us to improve which is obviously a good thing.”

While Davis(right) is central to Gerrard’s plans, it will be interesting to see if winger Jordan Jones figures having returned to the club following his loan spell with Sunderland.

On the other side of the Glasgow divide, goalkeeper onor Hazard — hero of Celtic’s Scottish Cup Final penalty shoot-out victory in December — will be hoping for regular game time under new Hoops manager Angelos Postecoglou otherwise the Downpatrick man may look to go out on loan.

Hazard feels first team football could help him earn a spot as Northern Ireland’s number one going forward and another man in the same boat is Trevor Carson, who earlier in the summer left Motherwell for Dundee United.

Carson is fit again after a terrible time with injury and is excited by the prospect of delivering for his new side. At 33, he is determined to make the most of the opportunity to show why he was regarded as one of the top goalkeepers in Scotland when he was with Motherwell.

Another man on the move could be Ali McCann, though he may be on the way out of Scottish football with a host of English clubs considering a bid for the St Johnstone midfielder.

McCann enjoyed a fabulous season last time out and was instrumental as Saints won both the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup. Celtic and Rangers have been linked with the Northern Ireland star with many suggesting it will be a surprise if he is not transferred in this window.

Liam Boyce is the poster boy at Hearts but Michael Smith is another vital cog in the Tynecastle machine, while Matthew Kennedy will look to follow in the footsteps of Niall McGinn and make himself an Aberdeen hero. Liam Donnelly already has that status at Motherwell, where the supporters are delighted to see him back after his long time absence due to a knee injury.

Once upon a time, Northern Ireland managers dominated the top flight of Scottish football. Only one will be in the dug-out when the new campaign begins — James McPake, who is in charge of Dundee, and played once for Northern Ireland in 2012.


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