Saville will take the armband to mark his 50th cap, earned over six years during which the 30-year-old has ridden something of a rollercoaster with Northern Ireland.
Called up for the first time during the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, when Michael O’Neill’s side were still riding high on the back of reaching Euro 2016, Saville has only had a tantalising glimpse of playing in a major tournament himself.
His first campaign ended with the controversial World Cup play-off defeat to Switzerland, and Northern Ireland were again just one game away when Saville started the 2-1 Euro 2020 qualifying play-off defeat to Slovakia.
“We had opportunities to make the finals which hurt and still hurt to this day,” Saville said. “The last couple of years have been difficult as a nation, as a team and individually.
“Obviously you want to play in a winning team. When it is tough it is hard to play well, but for me I have stuck with it. There is a lot of scar tissue. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t.
“I’m here to get success and I’ll stick with it and work hard. I like facing difficult situations, I’ve always been one to front it and with the squad we have now there is a lot of potential. Hopefully I can hang around for a bit longer and bring some success.”
The current campaign has been the hardest. Six defeats in eight games, when the only exceptions have been wins over San Marino, have hurt.
“I can’t sit here and say it has been successful,” Saville said. “It has been different and difficult. We’ve have tough moments, but I feel like we are building for the future and in a transitional period.”
O’Neill joked about Saville’s demeanour around the camp, but his experience has never been more important to a Northern Ireland squad.
“I laugh at George, he’s pretty grumpy and miserable around the place at times and he’s been even more grumpy with the captaincy,” O’Neill said. “He’s got high standards and expectations and that’s what you want to bring to the new players.”
O’Neill is determined to remain positive. That is despite an injury list that reaches well into double figures, with five players including Jonny Evans and goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell having pulled out since the squad was named last week.
O’Neill even cancelled training on Monday, the first time he has ever done so, as he said only seven players were ready to take part.
“I’ve been asked if the glass was half-full or half-empty, and if my glass was half-empty then I’m in the wrong job,” he said.
“The difficulty we have had in this group is results. There have definitely been positives at times for me in the performances. I understand the performances will be evaluated on results, but with these younger players, they need positivity.
“This is a brilliant group of players to work with, probably the easiest group of players that I have had in my time as an international manager because they are just so keen to do well.”
Among the players out is record caps holder and captain Steven Davis, who has missed the entire campaign with an ACL injury. This week, the 38-year-old admitted he did not know if he would be able to return to playing. O’Neill still hopes to see him do so.
“You want your international career to end with some sort of high,” O’Neill said. “It’s nice to have something to remember and Steven Davis deserves that. Any player that has gone over 100 caps deserves to be on the pitch…I know he’s very focused to make that happen.”