EURO 2016 QUALIFIERS: Steven Davis hopes there can be new hero for Northern Ireland in absence of Kyle Lafferty

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis
Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis

Steven Davis hopes Northern Ireland can salute a new hero on Thursday at Windsor Park.

With top goal scorer Kyle Lafferty suspended for the visit of Greece, the spotlight will turn to the prolific striker’s teammates to deliver the goods and seal Euro 2016 glory.

Skipper Davis goes into the clash in Belfast boasting some recent form.

The Southampton midfielder was on target as the Saints defeated Barclays Premier League champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The 30-year-old would love to add to his five international goals on Thursday evening – but he doesn’t mind who gets on the scoresheet – as long as Michael O’Neill’s side get the win they crave.

“It presents us with an opportunity, with Kyle out,” said Davis.

“When you see the quality of finishing in training you’d expect us to score more goals during the campaign.

“Kyle has been our talisman and rightly so but we are going to be dangerous from setplays and Big G (Gareth McAuley) and people like that will be an handful.

“There is an opportunity there for someone to go and write their name in the history books.”

Davis was barely one year old when Northern Ireland last graced a major finals.

Billy Bingham’s squad reached the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, but since then it has been 30 years of hurt for the Green and White Army.

Davis takes time to consider what it would mean if Northern Ireland reached next summer’s Euro finals in France.

“It’s hard to sum up in words really what it would mean,” he said.

“I obviously don’t remember anything about 1986. But I have seen different videos of the past and heard lots of stories from ex-players.

“It would be huge for us to qualify. I won’t underestimate how big it would be. It is hard to put into words. We are just focused on hopefully getting the job done, and then we can start dreaming about what he will be like at the tournament.

“We’re so close yet to far at this point in time.

“We’ve put ourselves in a great position with hard work, being disciplined in games, and also quality. It’s just about going out and showing that again, and hopefully we can get over the line tomorrow.

“Obviously we’re all aware of what was achieved in the past. It’s a long time since Northern Ireland have qualified for a major tournament, and never for the Euros, so we know we’re on the cusp of something special.

“One thing you can say about this squad is that we won’t get carried away and take our eye off the ball.

“We’ll just keep doing what we’ve done to get ourselves in this position.”