EURO 2016: Steven Davis confident Northern Ireland can cope without key personnel in Greece clash

Chris Baird (6) is sent off against Hungary
Chris Baird (6) is sent off against Hungary

Steven Davis is confident a sudden raft of suspensions won’t derail Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 qualifying bid.

Michael O’Neill’s men earned a heroic point against Hungary on Monday night to remain in the qualification box seat with two games remaining.

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis takes on Hungary's Adam Bodih

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis takes on Hungary's Adam Bodih

The dramatic draw – courtesy of Kyle Lafferty’s 93rd-minute equaliser – came at a price, however.

Talisman Lafferty will miss the Greece clash on October 8 after picking up another booking.

Defender Conor McLaughlin was also booked, ruling the Fleetwood right-back out of contention.

And Chris Baird’s bizarre sending off will also see the Derby County midfielder sidelined for the visit of Greece.

“We’re going to have a couple of suspensions for the next match, which is obviously a bit of a blow,” skipper Davis said.

“But we’re looking forward to the last two games.

“We will have players missing, but there are lads there who are ready to come in and help get us over the line. That’s what the squad is for.”

Greece – who Northern Ireland defeated in Piraeus last October – currently lie bottom of Group F, but did earn a spirited point away in Romania on Monday night.

“I think everyone is surprised where Greece are in the group because they’ve got a lot of quality,” Davis added.

“But if you ask anyone you want to get it wrapped up as soon as possible. It would be great to do it in front of our own fans, but if we have to do it in Finland then so be it.”

Northern Ireland hoped to complete their Euro mission on Monday night with victory over Hungary.

Despite the late draw Davis confident glory will beckon against either Greece or Finland next month.

“To show the character we did, coming from a goal down and the going down to 10 men we’ll take that,” he added.

“Everyone was so up for the game, we wanted to tie things up against Hungary and that would have been the fairytale.

“It was a difficult game but we have another two games left to clinch qualification. It’s still within our grasp.

“That point against Hungary could prove to be vital, because it means they have to go and win their two games now.

“Kyle Lafferty’s goal was an important one for us.

“The fans were magnificent with their backing, especially in those last twenty minutes. They’ve got a massive part to play against Greece.”

Davis admits Baird’s dismissal on Monday was a “bizarre” incident.

Baird was sent off after being shown two yellow cards simultaneously for committing two fouls during the same phase of play.

Referee Cuneyt Cakir played advantage to Hungary following Baird’s initial off-the-ball foul on Krisztian Nemeth before the Derby County midfielder clattered into Zsolt Kalmar seconds later.

The Irish FA has been told it has no grounds for appeal following Baird’s controversial dismissal.

“It’s not something I’ve ever seen before,” Southampton star Davis added.

“I spoke to the referee and I thought it was a case of mistaken identity but he explained he had played the advantage after the first challenge.

“Our frustration is, if he gives a free-kick for the first challenge, then Chris doesn’t make the second one.

“Now he’s going to be a big miss because he plays a big role, he’s been great for us this campaign.

“We’ve been quite fortunate with injuries and suspensions in this campaign but unfortunately we’re going to have three in the one game now.

“It gives an opportunity for other people to come in now and it was always going to be a squad effort throughout the campaign.”