Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty left in limbo until Norwich City recruit forwards

By Steven Beacom

Kyle Lafferty's nightmare at Norwich City will only end when the Carrow Road outfit sign new forwards.

The Northern Ireland hero has cut a frustrated figure all season at Norwich with his lack of game time and sources close to the club have now revealed he is being forced to wait for a much wanted move away from the club until the Canaries recruit players in the January transfer window.

That news will have compounded Lafferty's disappointment last night when he was omitted from the match day squad for a 3-1 Premier League defeat at Stoke.

On Saturday he made a rare substitute appearance in Norwich's 3-0 home loss to Manchester City in the FA Cup, and felt he'd make the bench again against Stoke.

He had hoped to have joined Championship side Leeds by this stage in the transfer window, but Canaries boss Alex Neil blocked that loan move insisting that Norwich would only consider a permanent transfer.

Norwich sold forward Lewis Grabban to Bournemouth for £8 million last week leaving them short of numbers in the striking department. Lafferty is seen as little more than cover until others arrive.

Norwich's chief target is Crystal Palace's Dwight Gayle. They are also keen on Everton's Steven Naismith.

Needing game time ahead of Euro 2016, Lafferty is desperate for a fresh start.

It is still possible that Leeds United could give it to him.

After having their loan move for the 28-year-old initially rejected, Leeds have switched their attention elsewhere, though if Lafferty is still kicking his heels at Norwich in the final week of the January transfer window, the Yorkshire club will consider returning with another loan offer.

Leeds have consistently stated that they are keen on Lafferty but on a temporary basis to begin with before possibly signing him on a two year deal in the summer.

There is also interest in the former Rangers striker from abroad, notably two of his former clubs, Palermo in Italy and Sion in Switzerland, as well as Croatian giants Red Star Belgrade though Lafferty would prefer to stay in England.

So would his Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill who is as keen as the player himself to see Lafferty in action on a regular basis.

Lafferty may have scored seven goals in qualifying as Northern Ireland made it to the Euro finals but he has only played 27 minutes of football in the Premier League for Norwich this season.

The Canaries could have done with him last night as they went down 3-1 at Stoke. Norwich midfielder Gary O’Neil was red carded in the first half and Stoke took advantage when Jon Walters broke the deadlock. The visitors levelled through Jonny Howson only for Joselu and a Ryan Bennett own goal to win it for Stoke. Norwich are now just five points above the drop zone.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Jermain Defoe’s super hat-trick helped Sunderland win 4-2 at fellow strugglers Swansea, who had Kyle Naughton sent off.

Swansea scored through a Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty and Andre Ayew, but it was not enough as Defoe showed his predatory instincts to net a treble with Patrick van Aanholt’s deflected shot also finding the target for Sunderland.

Sam Allardyce’s side remain third bottom but are now just one point behind Swansea in the table.

At St Mary’s Stadium Southampton defeated Watford 2-0 with goals from Shane Long and Dusan Tadic providing the Saints with their second league win in nine games.

 

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