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Kyle Lafferty hopeful of returning for Old Firm match

Kyle Lafferty is holding out for an early Christmas present that money can’t buy.

And while Santa Claus is preparing to make his calls, it will be a man dressed in white rather than red that Lafferty hopes will deliver what he wants.

Christmas Day may be the focal point of most excitement at this stage of the calendar but it’s New Year’s Day and a meeting with bitter rivals Celtic at Ibrox that the Rangers striker is longing for.

Lafferty has been sidelined for the last four weeks after breaking a finger in his left hand while involved in a playful tussle with team-mate Gregg Wylde just hours before last month’s Champions League game with Manchester United at Ibrox.

The Northern Ireland striker is booked in to see a specialist on Christmas Eve.

And if the medic delivers the news that Lafferty’s hand has healed enough for him to get back into competitive action then it will be like all his Christmases rolled into one for the Kesh man.

“I have never been so upset in my whole career,” Lafferty posted on Twitter after sustaining the injury.

“Biggest game so far this season and this happens.”

The New Year’s Day Old Firm clash is considered the biggest date in Scottish football and Lafferty doesn’t want to suffer double heartbreak by being forced out of that game as well.

Last week the 23-year-old spelt out his determination to face Celtic by Tweeting: “Hospital went well hands healin very well but doc stil thinks over 3 wks. Gonna be on the physios case to get me bk inside 2. Wanna b playin.” (sic)

Rangers manager Walter Smith had Lafferty in his line-up for the last meeting with Celtic back in October, the striker playing his part in an own-goal by Hoops defender Glenn Loovens in a 3-1 win for the Ibrox men.

If fit, Smith is likely to call upon Lafferty again, with the Gers holding a three point lead over the Parkhead men in the Scottish Premier League at present.

Lafferty may have missed the ‘biggest game so far this season’ but that is one of only three games that he has been forced to sit out with the harsh winter conditions in Scotland forcing the postponement of many Premier League fixtures.

Rangers contested a behind-closed-doors friendly against Falkirk yesterday. Lafferty’s didn’t take part, but his fellow Ulsterman Steven Davis played for 45 minutes as the Gers took the opportunity to give 22 first-team members some action, with two different teams fielded in each half.

Rangers won the game at their Murray Park training base 2-1, with first-half goals from Kenny Miller and James Beattie.

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