Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis is looking to take another step towards full fitness when Ian Baraclough’s side face Hungary in a friendly at Windsor Park on Tuesday night.
Davis came off the bench to score in Friday’s 3-1 win over Luxembourg, clocking just under half an hour in only his second appearance for club or country since January 12 due to injury, and is now expected to start on Tuesday.
“It was really nice to get on the pitch and build up fitness,” Davis said. “It’s been a good week for me so far, hopefully I can get some more minutes tomorrow and take another step in the right direction.
Live International Football
Tuesday 29th March 7:40pm
“Physically I feel good, the injury has felt good.”
Davis has been in and out of the Rangers squad in recent weeks as he has dealt with niggling injuries, but his only appearance in the last two months was a brief cameo in the 5-0 rout of Hearts.
“It’s always frustrating,” the 37-year-old said. “I’ve missed out on some big games and just when I felt I was getting myself back to a good position I’ve picked up another injury. It’s part and parcel of football.
“The good thing is they’ve been minor injuries but it’s been two consecutively on the bounce.
“The key for me is to get back into a rhythm of training and hopefully get more game time on a regular basis because that’s what my body has been used to.”
Davis’ return to the side is likely to be one of a number of changes that Baraclough makes to the side that started against Luxembourg.
Jonny Evans has returned to Leicester as planned after clocking an hour on Friday night, but Paddy McNair and Bailey Peacock-Farrell are available again and the likes of Ali McCann and Dan Ballard will be hoping to start.
“We want a positive performance,” Baraclough said. “We’re going to make changes and we’re going to freshen it up a bit but we still have to have that intensity in game irrespective of opposition.
“Hungary are going to be sterner test, no disrespect to Luxembourg, but we’re going to have to be bang at it.”
How to follow
Watch Northern Ireland vs Hungary live on Sky Sports Mix on Tuesday from 7.40pm; kick-off 7.45pm. Full match highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel at the final whistle.
- This is the first meeting between Northern Ireland and Hungary since a EURO 2016 qualifier back in September 2015, a 1-1 draw. It’s their seventh meeting overall, with Norn Iron winning just one of the previous six (D1 L4).
- Hungary have never lost away from home against Northern Ireland in four previous visits (W3 D1) winning both friendlies in April 2000 (1-0) and November 2008 (2-0).
- Hungary have won just one of their last eight matches against home nations (Northern Ireland, England Scotland & Wales – D2 L5), a 1-0 victory against Wales in a European Championships Qualifier in June 2019.
- Northern Ireland have won five of their last seven friendlies (L2), netting exactly three goals in three of those victories (vs Czech Republic, Malta and Luxembourg – all away from home however).
- Hungary have won just three of their last 12 games across all competitions (D4 L5), although two of those victories have come in their most recent three games (L1).
- Northern Ireland have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four home matches (all World Cup qualifiers), despite only scoring one goal themselves during this period – they last kept five straight shutouts on home soil back in November 2016.
- Hungary have kept just a single clean sheet in their last 11 games in all competitions, with that coming against San Marino in a World Cup qualifier in November (4-0).
- Northern Ireland’s most capped player, Steven Davis, netted his 13th international goal last time out against Luxembourg; only David Healy (36) and Kyle Lafferty (20) have ever netted more for the national team.