Rangers midfielder Steven Davis has emphasised how important it is for Northern Ireland to start their World Cup qualifying campaign off strongly, as he eyes a landmark individual record.

Davis' next two appearances will see him equal and then overtake Peter Shilton as the most-capped British national team player in history.

However ahead of tonight's game against Italy the Ibrox star is fully focussed on making this a successful World Cup qualifying campaign. He said: “It’s quite incredible to be in that position where I have that number of caps.

“It won’t be something I will be thinking about going into the game. It’s a byproduct of the match because the most important thing is to try and get off to a positive start in the campaign.

“I don’t really know how to sum it up in words. Breaking the Northern Ireland record was huge for me on a personal level but to be able to get the British one that is something I will look back on with great pride, especially when I finish my career

“I couldn’t put it into words what it would mean to me to play on the World Cup stage and that goes for everybody in the camp

“To play in a major tournament whether it is the Euros or the World Cup is massive for a country of our size. Getting to the World Cup would be the pinnacle.

“That’s what you grow up watching and dreaming of playing in but we also know how difficult it will be to get there.”

Davis will lead his side out tonight to face an Italian side who are unbeaten in their previous 22 matches.

He continued: “It’s huge because it sets the tone for the rest of the campaign and gives you a platform to build from.

“We are realistic to know how hard it will be to get a really positive result but we will do our best to do that.

“It’s important over the course of these first two games that we get some points on the board.

“We know from having success in the past that gives that real foundation to go and build on from there.”

Manager Ian Baraclough is yet to register a victory in his new role, but Davis insists the team are beginning to play the way the coach wants.

He added: “We have been working on a few different things in the last few camps we have been in in terms of the shape of the team and everybody knowing their roles under the new manager

“We are looking forward to trying to put that into practice. It will be a real test for us but it is a good game for us to have as well.”