Northern Ireland’s World Cup hopes have been rocked by the news that goalscoring hero Kyle Lafferty’s qualifying campaign could be over.
The Rangers striker limped off with a knee injury after a superb first-half display in Saturday night’s 1-1 draw with Poland.
Barring a miraculous recovery Lafferty will definitely miss Wednesday’s crunch clash with Slovakia at Windsor Park but there are fears that he suffered medial ligament damage which could also keep him out of next month’s trip to the Czech Republic.
Lafferty will have a scan today to assess the damage and the worse case scenario could see the Fermanagh man spend up to six weeks on the sidelines.
Boss Nigel Worthington is already without Warren Feeney, who is recovering from a hip operation, and Andy Little who pulled out of the squad last week.
“If (Lafferty) doesn’t make it someone else will get their chance — and what better time to make yourself a hero,” said Worthington.
Martin Paterson is now likely to start on Wednesday night alongside David Healy, while Accrington Stanley striker Billy Kee has been called in as cover.