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Steven Davis has no intention of quitting Northern Ireland duty any time soon

Northern Ireland v Germany – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group C – Windsor Park
(Image credit: Liam McBurney)

Steven Davis has no plans to call time on his international career any time soon as he stands ready to break Northern Ireland’s caps record on Thursday night.

The Rangers midfielder equalled Pat Jennings’ record of 119 caps last month and will move clear when he leads out his country for their Euro 2020 qualifying play-off semi-final in Sarajevo.

Now 35 and closing on Peter Shilton’s British record of 125 caps, Northern Ireland’s captain has no thoughts of calling time just yet.

“I’ve never given it any serious consideration,” he said of retirement.

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“There are times you come away off the back of a disappointing result or whatever and you’re disappointed and frustrated but I genuinely have never gotten to a point where it is something I’ve seriously considered.

“It’s always been a pleasure to play for Northern Ireland and be a part of the group.

“In the last number of years we’ve had a bit of success and it’s something we’ve all been able to enjoy.”

Davis broke into the side at the age of 20, and has been well accustomed to spending regular time away with the national team throughout his career.

“I’ve never been to any of my three kids’ first day at school or anything like that because of the way international football falls,” he said.

2017 FWA Footballer of the Year Dinner – Landmark Hotel

Davis matched the record of former goalkeeper Pat Jennings last month (Steven Paston/PA)

“You do miss out on things but that’s the sacrifices you make and my wife and kids are fully behind me.

“They love getting over to the games and it’s a great experience for them. Obviously going to (Euro 2016) was brilliant for them, too, and it is a reward for them for all the sacrifices they make too to make it possible.”

The memories of those European Championships four years ago have spurred on the senior players in the Northern Ireland squad as they look to earn a return to next summer’s rearranged finals.

Bosnia, who beat Northern Ireland home and away in the Nations League two years ago, present a stiff challenge but one Davis feels they are up to.

Bosnia and Herzegovina v Northern Ireland – UEFA Nations League – League B – Group 3 – Grbavica Stadium

Northern Ireland were beaten home and away by Bosnia in 2018 (Tim Goode/PA)

“I know this will be my 120th game but I don’t remember too many games when we were as dominant as we were in the Bosnia home game in the Nations League, in terms of our play and how we controlled the game in many aspects,” he said of the 2-1 defeat at Windsor Park.

“Obviously it was a couple of years ago and things have changed a little but the one thing we can take away from that and the away game is that we created a lot of chances.

“But they also showed how ruthless they are, so we know it’s going to be a very difficult game.”

Northern Ireland may have reached Euro 2016, their first major tournament in 30 years, but their last qualifying campaign ended in disappointment when their bid to reach the last World Cup was ended by Switzerland – with the help of a controversial penalty – in a two-legged play-off.

Northern Ireland v Norway – UEFA Nations League – Group 1 – League B – Windsor Park

Ian Baraclough, left, said his players have ‘unfinished business’ in qualifying play-offs (Liam McBurney/PA)

Manager Ian Baraclough is counting on that experience inspiring his players to the same degree as happier memories of the Euros.

“That experience and negative experience of losing that tie really helps to focus players because they don’t want to go through that feeling again,” he said.

“Without a doubt, they’ve got unfinished business.

“When you’re so close to a major tournament, they don’t want to go through the same feeling of disappointment. I think that’s massive.”