Steven Davis: O’Neill to talk with captain and interim Rangers boss over NI future

Steven Davis and Michael O’Neill celebrate after Northern Ireland sealed qualification for the Euro 2016 finals

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill says a return for captain Steven Davis depends on how long he remains interim manager at Rangers.

Davis, who is set to miss the remainder of the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign because of injury, is in the Ibrox role after the sacking of Michael Beale.

“It will be determined by how long he’s in that position,” said O’Neill.

“You can’t do both – you can’t be a player/manager at Rangers. I’ll chat with him over the international break.”

He added: “The days of that type of dual role are long gone and Steven knows it’s just not doable.”

Davis is Northern Ireland’s most capped player, but a serious knee injury has kept the Rangers midfielder sidelined for the last 10 months.

Northern Ireland have picked up just three points from six qualifiers as they prepare for this month’s Group H qualifiers against San Marino and Slovenia at Windsor Park.

O’Neill hopes Davis will return to international action and believes he will be a success as interim boss at Rangers.

“I’d love him back playing international football and I don’t think Steven’s career – at club or international level – should end with a knee injury,” added former Stoke City manager O’Neill.

“That would be very unfair on him, but that’s something we can discuss down the line. I suppose that will depend on how long he’s the Rangers [interim] boss.

“I was a little surprised to be honest [Davis becoming Rangers’ interim manager], but in a good way. It shows the regard Steven is held in within the club and by the board in particular.

“In a situation where a manager gets sacked there’s obviously instability at the club – Steven will bring a certain level of stability just because of his reputation as a player, his experience with the club, what he’s done for the club.

“I think he’s got the capability to do well. He knows the game, he brings a lot of common sense to the role and he’s in charge of his emotions, which is very important. I know he’s looking forward to the challenge.”

O’Neill warns of managing expectations with Dallas

Stuart Dallas is another long-term Northern Ireland absentee with the Leeds United midfielder not featuring since breaking his leg in April last year.

O’Neill provided an update as Dallas continues his rehabilitation with the Championship club.

Stuart Dallas (centre) has made 62 appearances for Northern Ireland since 2011

“The medical team are in regular contact with Stuart – it is good to see him back on the grass,” added O’Neill.

“I think we have got to manage the expectations which I think the Leeds medical team tried to do in the media recently. There is being back on the grass and there is being back in team training, and the two are totally different things.

“Stuart at this moment in time is not doing any kind of contact as far as I’m aware. He is basically working with the strength and conditioning people.

“He has spent a huge amount of his rehab period in the gym which is hugely frustrating for players so it is always a positive when a player gets back on the grass.

“He has had setbacks in that period as well so hopefully going forward this is now a continuation where they can build him up and he feels good.

“I don’t want to continually ask him every week how he is feeling because I’m sure he doesn’t need that, but we are in contact. As regards this campaign, I don’t envisage him playing any part.”


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