Steven Davis reckons that his native Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualifier with Norway on Sunday is the biggest game at Windsor Park since they qualified for Euro 2016.
The Southampton midfielder was the hero that night in October 2015, when he scored twice in a 3-1 victory over Greece. Since then, Michael O’Neill’s men reached the last 16 of the European Championships and got their 2018 World Cup qualification bid off to a fine start.
Heading into this weekend, Northern Ireland sit second in the group, five points behind World champions Germany.
“I believe this is the most important game we’ve played at Windsor Park since we qualified for the Euros. This is a massive match for us,” said Davis, who believes it could have a huge bearing on who finishes second behind Germany to clinch a play-off spot.
“This game carries a lot of significance for us and with it being at home it gives us a chance to pick up more points.
“In all honesty, we expect Germany to go on and win the group which leaves the rest of us fighting it out for that second place.
“So we know if you are going to be successful in these groups you must pick up as many points at home as possible.”
Norway are three places below Northern Ireland in the table, with Davis and co. having an opportunity to strengthen their position when they meet tomorrow, at 7.45pm BST.
“There is a gap of four points between us and Norway and if we win, it would put more daylight between them and us which would be a very big boost for our team,” said Davis.
“I know this is only game five and there will still be five games to go after the Norway match but it is good that the games at this stage are important because it means we are in the mix. Hopefully as the campaign continues the matches will become even more important.
"We have had convincing 4-0 victories at Windsor Park against San Marino and Azerbaijan so far in this campaign, but if anyone thinks it will be an easy game for us against Norway they would be wrong. Certainly no one in our squad will be thinking like that or taking anything for granted.
“It feels like we have had a long break since the last international in November and we have to get back into the swing of things quickly, get in the right frame of mind and take on board the roles and responsibilities that everyone has within the squad. If we do that we will have a great chance of getting the result we want.”