Kyle Lafferty: I'm working on my temper
Kyle Lafferty has said he is a changed man - thanks to the Rangers coaching staff.
The Northern Ireland striker, who is set to face Italy on Friday in a Euro 2012 qualifier, has never been far from controversy during his time at Ibrox, but Lafferty - who scored in stoppage-time in the victory against Hearts at the weekend - believes he is improving as a person and a player.
He said: "I do not get tired or fed up with people talking about my temperament. I can't complain about that. I know myself I'm not the calmest person on a football pitch. It's an aspect of my game I am working on and I am seeing a difference. Hopefully that can continue on the pitch, both at club and international level."
He added: "I've been working with the coaching staff at Rangers and they've been telling me to try different things to improve my temperament.
"They've been giving me tips and advice. I'm following that advice and it is working. If I continue doing that, hopefully it's a part of my game that will continue to improve."
Lafferty has put his recent good form for Rangers down to the confidence boost he was given as Walter Smith fought to keep hold of him in the summer transfer window.
Premier League new boys Blackpool had three bids for the Fermanagh forward turned down by Rangers and Lafferty took that as an indication of the management’s belief in his ability.
Since then he has turned a corner, banishing the negative publicity that has dogged his time in Scotland and turned in some match-winning displays, which included his first ever hat-trick for the club, against Dunfermline.
Now, with a spring in his step, the 23-year-old is hoping to use his newly-found rise in morale by helping to see off Italy for Northern Ireland in their Euro 2012 qualifier at Windsor Park tomorrow night.
“The biggest boost was Rangers wanting to hold on to me in the transfer window when Blackpool came,” he admitted.
“I think knowing that they wanted me to stay and fight for my place and be one of the players there definitely was a big confidence boost. I just took it on from there and started working harder and I am starting to see the benefit now.”
Northern Ireland will benefit too as there is no doubt that Lafferty can be a threat to anyone when on his game.
However, having been left out of that superb 1-0 defeat of Slovakia in the group opener, he admits he could struggle to get back into the side as he feels that no one deserves to lose their place in that winning team.
“I think it is going to be hard to get into the team, especially after the last game because I think everyone done so well”, he added.
“So if Nigel decides to give me the go ahead and starts me I will be more than delighted but I think if Warren (Feeney) or David (Healy) get dropped it would be harsh on them because they both done really, really well.
“If I am not starting and I am going to be on the bench I will be just trying to get on and be raring to go and try and help the team get the three points.”