Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis not rushing decision on future
Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis not rushing decision on future By Ian Parker, PA Steven Davis will not rush into any decisions on his international future but knows it will be difficult to accept the day when his Northern Ireland career is over – even if it is his call.
The 36-year-old once again showed him importance to his country in Monday’s superb goalless draw against European champions Italy at Windsor Park – but it remains an open question as to whether his 132nd appearance might also be his last.
Davis indicated before the game he would take the winter to reflect on his future, and with no more international fixtures until two friendlies in March before the Nations League starts in June, he will take his time.
“We won’t be back together until March and I really don’t think there’s any point in making any decisions now,” the Rangers midfielder said.
“In terms of everything, I’ll speak to the manager, and he will have to give people opportunities who are in and around it at the time; these are all things I need to consider.”
Though there might have been a late Northern Ireland winner through Conor Washington, Windsor Park greeted the final whistle with a huge roar.
Amid the celebrations, Davis was the last player to leave the pitch as he soaked up the atmosphere – the fans had sung his name throughout the night – but denied anything should be read into that.
“I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen moving forward,” he added. “Whenever that day comes it’s going to be very difficult for me to accept, whether it’s my decision or not.
“It’s always been an honour to pull on a Northern Ireland shirt and, the older I get, I try to soak everything up a bit more and that’s what I did on Monday.”
Northern Ireland needed everybody to be on their game against Roberto Mancini’s men, but central to the performance were the senior spine of Davis, Jonny Evans and Craig Cathcart.
Evans’ appearance in Friday’s win over Lithuania was his first in Northern Ireland colours since March following an injury he admitted he feared might be career-threatening, but the 33-year-old’s importance was clear.
“They are integral to what we do at the moment and long may that continue,” manager Ian Baraclough said.
“There is no talk from anybody with regards to, ‘When are they going to finish?’ and what’s going to happen in the future.
“Whatever will be will be but whilst they are still here we learn from them and we draw every ounce of experience from them and bring players that come through from younger age groups to feed off what they gave.”
Baraclough spoke to Davis as he was leaving the pitch after the match, but insisted it was no sort of farewell.
“I just said well done for a good game,” he said. “Everyone reads something into it and will say he went round the crowd and was the last one off.
“It’s fair to say he probably needs time to have a think about things and where we are but he said as long as he is enjoying it and sees that we are competitive, why is there a reason to finish?
“I’m sure he sees we will be competitive in the future and will hopefully get even better.”