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Davis unfazed by suspension threat hanging over several Northern Ireland players

Six Northern Ireland players are one caution away from a suspension, yet captain Steven Davis does not expect that scenario to affect team selection against Germany.

Michael O’Neill has a quandary ahead of the world champions’ arrival in Belfast this week in that a booking for Davis, Jonny Evans, Corry Evans, Stuart Dallas, Oliver Norwood or Josh Magennis – all of whom could conceivably start – will rule them out of the trip to Norway three days later.

That may yet be a pivotal Group C contest if the Germans win at Windsor Park as the second-placed Northern Irish would likely kick-off their final qualifier in Oslo not knowing if they have done enough for a qualification play-off berth.

The situation is muddied further in that those play-offs are seeded based on world rankings and a victory against Norway might go a long way to ensuring O’Neill’s side, currently ranked 20th, avoid potential heavyweights like Portugal and Italy.

Yet, following consultations with O’Neill, midfielder Davis does not think his international boss will play a weakened side against the Germans.

“I think whenever maybe you try to be too clever in these situations it can come back and bite you,” Davis said.

“It’s a game that everybody will obviously want to play in. We’ve got a number of players on bookings and what will be will be, we just have to get on with it, I guess.

“It’s a difficult one. You never know with the seedings what the result against Norway might affect as well. He’s the manager and we’re the players, we just get on with the job.”

FIFA’s rules stipulate that a player incurs a suspension if he gets just two yellow cards throughout the qualification campaign, a regulation that carries over into the play-offs too.

O’Neill, whose squad includes only four Premier League players, has deemed that unfair and believes it only serves to handicap nations whose potential player pool is smaller.

“The two bookings (for a suspension) is very harsh,” O’Neill claimed.

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