Kyle Lafferty has been ruled out of Northern Ireland ’s World Cup openers against Slovakia — but may still face the Czech Republic next Wednesday.
The Rangers striker, who was an unused substitute in Sunday’s dramatic 4-2 Old Firm victory over Celtic, has been diagnosed with a back injury which will require complete rest.
Lafferty will not need an operation on the problem at the moment but involvement in the international double header could aggravate the injury.
An MRI scan on Monday showed up an issue with two plates in Lafferty’s back, but he met up with the Northern Ireland squad in London yesterday to have the injury further assessed before flying back to Glasgow.
“I had to get treatment on my back at Rangers on Monday and
the MRI scan revealed a small problem in my back,” said Fermanagh man Lafferty (left).
“The specialist told me I need to rest or the injury would get worse.
“At the minute there is no need for an operation and the specialist said if I get the correct rest and recovery then there will be no lasting damage.
“My back has been sore since flying to London and the Northern Ireland staff thought it was better for me not to travel to Slovakia.
“But the next two games for Northern Ireland are massive.
“It is vital we get the World Cup campaign off to a good start and I really want to be a part of that.
“I did everything to make sure I am available but at the end of the day it will be up to the medical staff.
“I missed out on the Scotland match because of a hamstring injury so the last thing I want to do is miss anymore games.
“Nigel Worthington has told me he will monitor the situation over the weekend and I still hope I can play some part in the Czech Republic game.”