Steven Davis will not rush into decision on Northern Ireland future

Northern Ireland ended their Nations League campaign with a 3-1 defeat in Greece.

Rangers midfielder Steven Davis will not rush into decision on Northern Ireland future SNS Group

Rangers midfielder Steven Davis has insisted he will not rush into any decision on his international future following a disappointing Nations League campaign.

The 37-year-old Northern Ireland earned his 140th cap in the 3-1 defeat to Greece in Athens on Tuesday night.

Ian Baraclough’s side narrowly avoided the prospect of a relegation play-off on goal difference after Kosovo thrashed fellow strugglers Cyprus 5-1.

And Davis, who has made eight appearances for Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men this season, will now take time to evaluate his situation before committing to a return for the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

By the time the tournament in Germany begins Davis will be 39 but he insists he will not make any sudden decisions on his future.

He said: “I think it is important to reflect and not make knee-jerk decisions.

“When that day does come it will be very emotional for me to be honest. Everyone knows how much it means to me playing for Northern Ireland. I think I need to really feel I can still contribute as much as I want to and that has to be shared amongst everybody.”

Northern Ireland have not qualified for the World Cup and are yet to arrange any fixtures for the pre-tournament international window in November, so they may not play again until March when qualifying for 2024 begins.

Defeat in Athens was a disappointing way to sign off as the optimism created by Saturday’s come-from-behind win over Kosovo quickly evaporated in a disjointed performance with too many mis-placed passes.

Davis was responsible for a key one – giving the ball away to allow Greece to retake the lead early in the second half – and the Rangers midfielder held up his hand.

“We have said it too many times in this campaign, we are frustrated,” he said. “Obviously coming off the high of the Kosovo game we wanted to come out here and get a positive result but unfortunately we gave ourselves too much to do with the two goals we conceded in the second half.

“In the first half I thought we were well within our shape and frustrated them at times with some good combinations. In the second half we didn’t really get going and the pressure told in the end. There were a couple of mistakes thrown in there as well and that has happened too often in this campaign.

“In terms of the first half we reacted well to conceding first and I’ve made a mistake for their second goal and we got punished for it and we struggled to get up the pitch and play in the style that we did in the first half.”

Although Shayne Lavery had cancelled out Dimitris Pelkas’ opener, Giorgos Masouras punished Davis’ error 10 minutes into the second half and a fine strike from Petros Mantalos settled it late on.

The final whistle was greeted with boos by the 976 travelling fans packed behind Baraclough’s dugout, and a number turned their frustrations on the under-pressure manager as he went to applaud them.

“We are all in it together,” Davis said when asked about Baraclough. “It has been a really frustrating time. The responsibility lies with more than the manager but we obviously know how football is perceived when results are frustrating. It is a shared frustration within the dressing room.

“We felt optimistic coming into this campaign coming up against the teams we have and we don’t feel we have done enough.

“There is plenty of frustration there (amongst the fans) but for 90 minutes in the game and even after the game when the players went over to them they were clapping and showing their support again.”

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