MX23RW : Saturday, February 16 16:22:30

Davis looks to positive future after terrible run of luck in Nations League

Davis looks to positive future after terrible run of luck in Nations League
© Reuters
Northern Ireland ended their Nations League campaign with a fourth straight loss – a 2-1 home defeat to Austria.

Steven Davis reckons he has never known a run of bad luck like that experienced by Northern Ireland in the Nations League.

Valentino Lazaro’s stoppage-time winner for Austria on Sunday condemned Michael O’Neill’s side to a 2-1 loss at Windsor Park and a fourth defeat in as many outings in the competition.

That was despite some encouraging performances which saw Northern Ireland completely outplay Bosnia and Herzegovina in the opener only to be punished by clinical finishing, and hold their own away from home against Austria.

Asked if he could recall another run like it, Davis said: “I don’t think so, not in terms of getting the performances we’ve had without getting results.

“I’ve definitely had periods where we maybe haven’t been playing well and not picked up results.

“To show the consistency we have and not get the results has been difficult to take, but I think the dressing room is still upbeat. We can still see the bigger picture.”

Michael O’Neill joked after the match he was keen to forget the Nations League “had ever been invented” but said it was better to lose games now than when the Euro 2020 qualifiers get under way in March – a sentiment Davis agrees with.

“I think sometimes you go through little periods in football where you don’t get what you deserve all the time,” the Southampton midfielder said.

“Hopefully that’s our bad luck out of the way and we can really kick on.

“We know how important it is to get off to a good start in the qualifiers, so we’ll be ready for that come March and really focused and determined to secure that spot.”

Xaver Schlager had fired Austria ahead four minutes into the second half, but Corry Evans’ first international goal in eight years brought the hosts level eight minutes later, and they had been on the attack seconds before Lazaro’s strike.

“We showed good character again and we didn’t let it affect us,” Davis said of falling behind.

“That was definitely a positive – the character we have shown, because it would have been easy to drop when we’ve had the results we’ve had and not got what we felt we deserved.

“But we don’t really want to get into that mindset to continually speak about performances without getting results. It’s important we get back to picking up results.”

Liam Boyce called Austria’s late goal “a kick in the you know whats” but said Northern Ireland can take confidence from their recent performances and should go into the qualifiers with a positive mindset.

“We obviously have to fine-tune a few things but results will start to come,” the Burton striker said.

“It’s been good to see how Michael wants us to play come to fruition and I believes it is working even with a step up in quality.

“We just need to concentrate and keep believing in it.

“The more we do it, the more we get used to it and we have to look at everyone having a clean slate going into the Euro 2020 qualifiers. We’ve got nothing to lose.”

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