Davis warns of over-confidence
Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis has warned his side against "taking liberties" when they face Azerbaijan on Wednesday night but admits only victory will do.
The midfielder will lead his side out at Windsor Park looking for a first win in World Cup qualifying at the fourth attempt. Defeat in Russia and a home draw against Luxembourg represented a modest start to the Group F campaign, but things picked up in unexpected fashion when Michael O'Neill's side claimed a surprise draw in Portugal last month.
Three points against Azerbaijan would leave them in good spirits heading into the new year, but Davis does not advocate over-confidence. "We know what we are capable of and we are confident of three points," he said. "But as always, we are Northern Ireland and we can't take liberties. We have to give 100% to get a result."
Davis added: "They will see this as a chance to get some points on the board a well and I'm sure there'll be chances for both teams.
"But we had a big boost from the result in Portugal and this is a game we look forward to. We need to go and get those three points.
"Azerbaijan set the team up well against Russia and frustrated them for a long period. They might do the same again but it's up to us to stamp our authority on the game and get some goals."
For O'Neill, the fixture represents a final chance to end his first year in charge with a win. In six games to date he has presided over three wins and three defeats and does not have another fixture booked in until March.
As such, he accepts the desire to register his first success is becoming an urgent one.
"It's time for us to put three points on the board. That players know that and I know that," he said. "I'm desperate to get my first win as manager and to get the first win with this group of players.
"The players can move on very quickly, they go back to their clubs and refocus so it's probably the manager that carries a bad result around longer; I don't have another game to get it out of my system."