Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland boost as Lafferty fit to face Serbia

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland’s Euro Championship battlers head for Friday’s behind-closed-doors showdown with Serbia in Belgrade, boosted by the return to fitness of Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty.

The Kesh man featured in yesterday’s League Cup final victory over Celtic after making a speedy recovery from a knee injury.

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans also links up with the squad today after returning to action at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Evans’ dismissal in a 1-0 win over Bolton now rules him out of the Manchester derby FA Cup semi-final at Wembley next month but his return to fitness is a boost for Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington.

In a another fillip for Worthy, Evans’ world class defensive comrade at United, Nemanja Vidic will not feature for Serbia due to a calf injury.

“Coach Vladimir Petrovic spoke to Vidic and it's been decided that he should stay with his club Manchester United for further treatment,” a Serbian FA spokesman explained.

Birmingham City striker Nikola Zigic is also doubtful as he is recovering from a groin injury.

Northern Ireland will have just 240 fans at the game, by special permission of Uefa who ordered the lockout of home supporters after a Serb hooligan element rioted in Italy last year.

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