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'Game changer' Northern Ireland hero Kyle Lafferty is loan target for Leeds United

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty craves playing first team football and Leeds United may be the place to get it after the Yorkshire club made a move to sign the striker on loan from Norwich City.

Lafferty has been frustrated by his lack of opportunities at Carrow Road this season, telling the Belfast Telegraph earlier this week that he intended speaking to manager Alex Neil about his lack of game time and future at Norwich.

The ex-Rangers ace, who scored seven goals in Northern Ireland's successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, suggested he may need to move on to play on a regular basis and be in his 'best shape ever' for next year's finals in France.

Given his sensational form at international level, it has been a huge surprise to Northern Ireland supporters - and many Norwich fans - that he has only played once in the Premier League for the Canaries this term.

Clearly Leeds United's new boss Steve Evans feels the same way and wants Lafferty to join his international team-mate and good friend Stuart Dallas at the Championship outfit.

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Revealing that he had made an enquiry to take the forward on loan to Elland Road, former Rotherham manager Evans, a big Celtic fan, said: "I don't know Kyle Lafferty but I didn't like him when he played for Glasgow Rangers because he always gave Glasgow Celtic a problem. And I didn't like him last season when he came on and changed the game against Rotherham.

"He's good friends with Stuart (Dallas), he's done absolutely terrifically well for Northern Ireland and I've placed a call into Alex Neil just to ask what the situation is. It was just a call to ask about the availability of one or two players that Alex has.

"And Alex Neil I know is like myself, he's a grafter. Alex is a friend and when he gets a minute and a decision he will call me. Lafferty is a good player but does it mean we can bring him to Elland Road and is he the first person we want in the door? They are all questions that will remain private but Kyle Lafferty is a lad that whatever happens, and I am being totally neutral here as I have never spoken to the lad, needs to be playing first team football if he's going to the Euros in the summer."

Despite all the financial uncertainty, ownership issues and managers coming and going in recent years, Leeds are still considered a big club in England and have a fiercely passionate fan base.

With his ability and personality it's the type of club where Lafferty, who was on loan at Turkish side Rizespor last season, could become a big hero.

Belfast Telegraph