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Gary Rowett: Kyle Lafferty is worth the risk

By Stuart McKinley

Published 01/04/2016

Good news: The injury picked up by Kyle Lafferty in Northern Ireland’s friendly with Slovenia isn’t serious
Good news: The injury picked up by Kyle Lafferty in Northern Ireland’s friendly with Slovenia isn’t serious

Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett has admitted that signing Kyle Lafferty is a gamble - and he believes that it is one worth taking.

The Northern Ireland ace has joined the Championship play-off contenders on loan for the rest of the season after a nightmare campaign at Norwich City in which he was continually overlooked by manager Alex Neil.

And if Lafferty - who hit seven goals in Northern Ireland's successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign - can help fire Brum into the Premier League then Rowett's decision to bring him in will have paid off big time, with top flight clubs set to earn £100m each from TV revenue from next season.

"It was a tough decision as a club, because do we bring a player like that in and use the funds that we've got available?" said Rowett.

"That's why we've waited in terms of loan options as well because we've had to build that pot of money up so that we can try and make an impact late on in the season.

"And the decision has been do we still chase what's still there by bringing another striker in at a high cost or do we save it until next season and make us a little bit stronger next season?

"I've chosen to gamble because I think we've got to do that for the fans and the players.

"Let's have a go and try and be as ambitious as we can and whatever happens after this point happens."

Lafferty could make his Birmingham debut at Charlton Athletic tomorrow after Rowett allayed fears that a groin injury could put his participation at the Euro 2016 finals in doubt.

The striker suffered a slight groin injury after coming on as a second-half substitute in Northern Ireland's 1-0 friendly victory over Slovenia on Monday night, but is in contention to appear at The Valley.

"I was surprised to read things claiming he would miss the rest of the season. That's not the case at all," said Rowett.

"Kyle has a tightness in the groin, just due to the fact that he hasn't played that often this season.

"He's been with the physios and hopefully we will be able to get him out on the training field as soon as possible.

"The weekend might come a little too soon for him, but he is certainly not ruled out - and certainly he's not going to be missing for six weeks or the rest of the season."

Rowett is hoping that Lafferty will be the answer to an ongoing goalscoring problem as Birmingham look to close a six-point gap to Sheffield Wednesday, who currently occupy the last play-off spot - with the Blues having the benefit of a game in hand.

"He's a player we've always liked. He's a little bit of a character as well which is something at this stage of the season you also look for and we think he is someone that can come in and handle all that pressure of being in this situation," added Rowett.

"Of course he hasn't played that much football but when he has done so with Northern Ireland in particular he's scored goals.

"We've not had enough goals from our other players so we need to do what we can.

"He's got real energy and he's a willing runner as part of his game which I think is good."

Belfast Telegraph

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