Steven Davis: Caps record huge incentive for Northern Ireland skipper

Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis
Davis has played for Aston Villa, Fulham, Rangers and Southampton

Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis says the chance to beat the caps record held by Pat Jennings is motivating him to stay at the top of his game.

The Rangers midfielder has made 117 international appearances - two short of the legendary NI goalkeeper.

The 35-year-old midfielder also hopes to lead his country to the delayed Euro 2020 finals - and to feature in the next World Cup qualifying campaign.

"Pulling on the green jersey is still something I cherish," said Davis.

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'There won't be much twisting needed' - Davis plans to keep on playing for NI

Northern Ireland had been due to play Bosnia-Herzegovina on Thursday in the Euro play-off semi-final, with victory putting them into a match against Slovakia or the Republic of Ireland to decide who qualifies for the finals.

Those games have been put back until June at least because of the coronavirus situation.

"We had been looking forward to Bosnia for a long time, it was going to be massive for us," said Davis.

"We had been building up to it, but circumstances have dictated there will be a delay.

Davis surpassed David Beckham's record as the UK's most-capped midfielder when winning his 116th cap against the Netherlands in November 2019
Davis surpassed David Beckham's record as the UK's most-capped midfielder when winning his 116th cap against the Netherlands

"At the minute, June has been pencilled in, but that could get delayed again. We just have to go along with how the virus is being controlled.

"We would like it to be played in front of fans - our supporters are massive to us and follow us all over Europe and we would want them to be there. But we will have to follow instructions."

Davis also said he hoped the Irish FA and Stoke City could reach an agreement which would allow Michael O'Neill to stay on as NI boss for the rest of the European campaign.

If Northern Ireland qualify for back-to-back Euro finals, former Aston Villa and Southampton player Davis would have the chance to surpass the caps record held by former Tottenham and Arsenal keeper Jennings who played his last match at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

It would be a great achievement for me personally. To equal or gat past Pat would be special," added Davis whose first competitive international match was a World Cup qualifier against England at Old Trafford in March 2005.

"I am trying to not think too much about it but, as it inches closer, it is on my mind.

Davis was 20 when he made his Northern Ireland debut in a 1-0 friendly defeat by Canada
Davis was 20 when he made his Northern Ireland debut in a 1-0 friendly defeat by Canada

"However, you are always only one injury away or something happening like lack of form, so you may not get the opportunity to do that. I will just concentrate on keeping myself as fit as possible and hopefully I can do that."

Davis also revealed he has not considered quitting the international scene and is hungry to add to his huge tally of Northern Ireland caps.

I haven't given possible retirement much thought. I love playing for my country and it is hard to imagine myself not doing that," he said.

"It looks like the two seasons are going to merge together. I'm just looking forward to being able to play again and am keeping myself as fit as possible."