Former Rangers and Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley has admitted that Michael O’Neill quitting as NI manager could cause Steven Davis to call time on his international career, saying it is a “major concern.”
Davis and McAuley have been team-mates for club and country over the years and McAuley worries that with Davis turning 35 soon he might want to call it a day at international level.
The midfielder is, by McAuley’s estimation, the “catalyst” for the Northern Irish side and insists that he “holds the team together,” which is why he’s so worried Davis will retire.
“I think with the loss of Michael, Davo, who will turn 35 on New Year’s Day, could be next and that should be an even greater worry to Northern Ireland fans. He is the catalyst of our team,” McAuley told the Belfast Telegraph.
“Just look at the influence and control he had on the Czech Republic game last month. Northern Ireland go three-nil up, Davo goes off and three minutes later, the Czechs have scored twice.
“Davo, as I know from personal experience having played with him throughout my international career, holds the team together.
“Michael’s departure really could have a knock-on effect and with Davo obviously wanting to see more of his family and Rangers giving players time-off during the international window, it could be an opportune time for him to call it a day.
“That is a major concern.”
The veteran was on the bench yesterday as Gerrard’s side recorded the same scoreline over Livingston thanks to Alfredo Morelos and Joe Aribo to keep the pressure on Celtic at the top of the table.
With O’Neill seeing out the season with Northern Ireland, Davis would likely wait until the conclusion of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign before making any decision on his international future.