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Steven Davis hopes to show Northern Ireland qualities against Azerbaijan

Updated: Friday, 11 Oct 2013 12:24 | Comments

Steven Davis: 'The things we've done against the likes of Russia and Portugal sort of went out of the window last time'
Steven Davis: 'The things we've done against the likes of Russia and Portugal sort of went out of the window last time'

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis is setting his sights on victory over Azerbaijan after admitting footage of his side's last outing proved tough to watch.

After defeating Russia in August and running Portugal close before a 4-2 defeat, an abject display against Luxembourg last month came as something of an unwelcome surprise.

Despite taking the lead at the Stade Josy Barthel, Michael O'Neill's side were fully deserving of a 3-2 loss against their lowly hosts.

They have the chance to make amends at the Bakcell Arena on tonight, but have already been forced to confront their earlier shortcomings and it is not an experience Davis wants to repeat.

"I watched the game by myself when I got back from Luxembourg and when we met up this time we watched edited clips of the game," he said.

"We've watched the footage back to see what went wrong and it wasn't easy viewing. It was a hard one to take for everybody. It was a hard result to go back to your club with.

"There are a lot of things we have built on and have done well recently - team shape, being difficult to beat, being good in possession. The things we've done against the likes of Russia and Portugal sort of went out of the window last time and we became disjointed.

"That's football, sometimes it throws up nights like that, but we want to go out and show it was a bit of a blip.

"Hopefully we can show our real qualities in the next two games."

"We've watched the footage back to see what went wrong and it wasn't easy viewing" - Steven Davis

Davis, who has been performing well for high-flying Southampton in recent weeks, is immune from O'Neill's axe but the same is not true of everyone who lined up in Luxembourg.

O'Neill has no intention of tinkering for the sake of it but admitted he would need to alter his starting XI due to changes in individual circumstances.

"We have to build a mentality to win games and the only way to do that is by winning, so we can't afford to use these matches to experiment that manner," he said.

"It would be nice to give the less experienced players some game time because they will benefit from that in the future, but the imperative is to pick a side we think can win the game. That's what we will do.

"But there are a number of things to consider. Players aren't indispensable: performances keep you in the team.

"If you look at the team we played against Russia (in August), apart from the lads whose season hadn't started yet, the other seven or eight had basically played the first three or four games for their club. Since then some of their game time has been limited and inconsistent.

"These are important games and you want your team as game ready as possible. That is always a factor."

Northern Ireland's only injury doubt, Niall McGinn, has been passed fit for selection after training fully with his team-mates on the eve of the game.

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