Steven Davis is braced for a major challenge with Northern Ireland in Italy as history beckons for the Rangers star [Northern Ireland Twitter].
Davis is set to captain NI as their World Cup Qualifying campaign gets underway against the Azzurri at the Ennio Tardini Stadium in Parma on Thursday evening.
They could barely have been given a tougher start, with an away trip to the team ranked tenth in the world and sixth in Europe.
However, the midfield maestro believes the squad, which features former Gers striker Kyle Lafferty but not Ibrox loanee Jordan Jones who was unavailable due to injury, is capable of causing an upset.
“There’s excitement about a new campaign, we’ve got to have ambition as well to go and try and achieve something, so if we manage to get a positive result it would be really good for us and stand us in good stead moving forward,” he said [Northern Ireland Twitter].
“I’m looking forward to getting these internationals started. At times we’re probably going to have to suffer in the game. Italy are going to have a lot of possession but we know when we get opportunities we’re going to have to be ruthless.”
It’s set to be a big night for Davis on a personal level, too, as he will move level with the current most-capped British player of all time, Peter Shilton, on 125 caps.
“It’s hard to sum up in words what that [record] would mean to me,” he added. “When I retire, I’ll look back on it and really take in what I’ve achieved. When you start out as a young boy you just want to play for your country and to be in the position where you’re able to break records is unbelievable, really.
“There have been a lot of sacrifices along the way but it would be a great moment if I manage to do it.”
Davis will have the opportunity to go beyond Shilton before he returns to club duty, with a friendly against the USA coming up at Windsor Park on Sunday before a second World Cup Qualifying fixture against Bulgaria at the same venue next Wednesday.
Davis recently signed a contract extension at Ibrox before dropping a hint about his long-term future that Rangers supporters should love.