Football/Soccer

Rangers man Steven Davis ready for Northern Ireland duty

Northern Ireland's Steven Davis scores a penalty against Estonia back in March.
Kenny Archer in Tallinn

Euro 2020 qualifiers Group C: Estonia v Northern Ireland (A Le Coq Arena, Tallinn, 5pm Irish time)

MOST footballers are glad to see a campaign finish but Steven Davis would happily have kept on playing for Rangers into June.

The Euro 2020 qualifiers at least offer him that opportunity with Northern Ireland and the skipper is keen to keep kicking a ball around:

“Yeah, I'm feeling good,” he said with a smile. “I feel comfortable at Rangers and was playing games towards the end of the season.

“I was enjoying the role in the team and obviously the team were doing well so I didn't really want the season to end, because the first six or seven months of the season were frustrating for me.

“I’m delighted to sign there for another year and look forward to building on our performances next season.”

Ibrox colleagues Kyle Lafferty and Gareth McAuley are also out with him in Estonia, as is new club-mate Jordan Jones, who will be keen to be in competitive action again after being frozen out by then Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke in the latter stages of the season:

“In the last couple of internationals Jordan has put in two very strong performances – obviously it was a bit frustrating he wasn't getting game-time towards the end of the season with Kilmarnock with his situation there having signed for us [Rangers].

“He'll be looking to come in and make an impact. He has looked bright in training this week. It will be a big step up for him [at Rangers] but he'll be ready for it.”

The 34-year-old reckons that NI are up to the challenge of beating Estonia (and then Belarus) again too, although those will be tougher tasks this time around:

“We're not under-estimating how difficult it is going to be, these two games are going to be a good test. We're away from home, we have to take into account the heat and our club seasons ending some time ago, but I think we are well prepared, and we can go into the two games in confident mood.”

Qualifying from a group containing Germany and the Netherlands would be a huge feat, Davis acknowledges, but the approach remains ‘one step at a time’:

“Without doubt. Listen, we knew when the group was drawn how difficult it would be to progress, but we’ve just have to take each game as it comes.

“We managed to do that with the two home games, which was important. It’s always good to get off to a good start and these games are equally as important.

“We just want to give ourselves an opportunity going into the second half of the group and our sole focus is on getting the job done in these two games”.

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