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Injury and an uncertain future a double whammy for Kyle

By Steven Beacom and  Jim van Wijk

Northern Ireland star Kyle Lafferty is poised to leave Norwich City and in another twist the striker is set to enter next month's crucial Euro 2016 double header with NO game time under his belt this season.

The influential Lafferty, who has scored five goals in the Euro campaign so far, has been suffering from a knee injury sustained last month.

He will return to first team training on Monday, but Norwich boss Alex Neil has indicated he won't play club football before he is due to join up with the international squad for the big September clashes against the Faroe Islands and Hungary in Group F.

There will be concerns that the Fermanagh man will be undercooked for those fixtures, though on the upside he will be itching to play and move his country closer to next year's finals.

It now seems certain that Lafferty's future will be away from Carrow Road.

He is well down the pecking order in terms of Neil's forward options and will either go out on loan, as he did last season to Turkish side Caykur Rizespor, or make a permament move elsewhere.

Lafferty had been hoping to be given a chance with the Premier League newcomers, believing he could re-produce his stunning form for Northern Ireland of late for the Canaries.

Neil, though, is more interested in bringing in a new striker than offering the former Rangers man an opportunity.

Norwich host Stoke City today in the Premier League and face Rotherham in the League Cup on Tuesday night. Knowing that his chances of playing in the top flight are limited, Lafferty would have hoped to feature in the Cup game.

His manager, however, appeared to knock that idea on the head. He said yesterday: "Kyle has been doing a lot of fitness work and will join in with the players next week in full training. The League Cup tie is probably too soon for him, because it's on the Tuesday that only gives him one training session."

In terms of takers for Lafferty, there will be interest at home from Championship sides and abroad. The 27-year-old is no stranger to playing in foreign fields having already had spells in Switzerland, Italy and Turkey.

Another Northern Ireland man moving on will be Jonny Evans.

Tottenham, West Brom and Stoke have all expressed an interest in signing the Manchester United defender, though his preferred move would be to Everton.

Evans knows that he is not part of United manager Louis van Gaal's plans going forward and wants to play regular first team football.

Ideally he would like to join up with the Toffees, though that deal could depend on whether Everton youngster John Stones ends up at Chelsea, who are keen to snap up the defender.

Evans has not figured for United this season and is unlikely to before the transfer window closes.

Meanwhile Jamie Ward remains a doubt for Northern Ireland's forthcoming Euro 2016 games in the Faroes (September 4) and at home Hungary (September 7).

He picked up a hamstring injury in midweek and won't play for Nottingham Forest against Neil Lennon's Bolton side in the Championship today.

Ward has become a regular under Michael O'Neill.

Belfast Telegraph


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