Belfast Telegraph

Wales v Northern Ireland: Daniel Lafferty confident he can plug the gap left by Brunt

By Steven Beacom

Daniel Lafferty is determined to show that he can fill the Euro 2016 gap for Northern Ireland created by the unfortunate injury to Chris Brunt.

After a year in the international wilderness, Burnley defender Lafferty has returned to Michael O'Neill's squad for tonight's friendly in Wales and Monday's match against Slovenia at Windsor Park, and the former Derry City ace wants to prove he can solve a problem for the manager.

Since Brunt, who played at left-back in a four-man defence in eight of the 10 Euro qualifiers, suffered a serious knee injury playing for his club last month and was ruled out of the finals, there has been much debate about his replacement and whether or not O'Neill will change the formation to 3-5-2 to accommodate the West Brom man's absence.

Lafferty, who last played for his country 12 months ago against Scotland, believes he is capable of playing any system that O'Neill may choose for this summer's group games with Poland, Ukraine and Germany.

"Between now and the end of the season, I will do whatever I can to be on that plane to France," said the 26-year-old, who recently returned to the Clarets from his loan deal with League One outfit Oldham.

"With Chris Brunt missing out it kind of upsets the back four that has been regularly playing, so the manager might go with a 3-5-2 formation.

"I have played left of a five a number of times, so doing that shift wouldn't be an issue at all.

"Either way if it's a 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2 I will be looking to try and get myself involved. I see myself as an attack-minded full-back so playing in that kind of in between position wouldn't hinder me, in fact playing in either that left-back/left-wing role is something I would really enjoy, because you obviously get a lot more freedom to go forward.

"A modern day full-back has to be athletic, he has to be fit, as there's a lot of demand put on him and it's a style of play which I would like to say I try to emulate.

"I'm comfortable enough on the ball and I'm able to find the pass so if that does happen I would like to think that I could make an impression on Michael.

"My plan with the international team is to train well and if I play at all, obviously I want to play well and then see what happens from there, head back to England and try to finish the season off strongly and hopefully do enough to force my way into Michael's plans for the squad which goes to France."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph