Belfast Telegraph

Fans' prayers are answered as Lafferty shakes off minor knock

By Adrian Rutherford

It was the moment that had Northern Ireland fans fearing the worst - and sparked a #PrayforKyle Twitter frenzy.

Midway through yesterday's training session, star striker Kyle Lafferty pulled up injured.

He limped off the pitch at Parc Montchervet after appearing to injure his groin while challenging for a ball.

As he was led away by Caroline Woods, the team's head physiotherapist, fans were desperately hoping for the best.

Messages with the #PrayforKyle hash tag began circulating on Twitter. Sylvie Epinat, the mayor of Saint Georges de Reneins, who was watching the training session, sent her best wishes. "I hope that he is okay and hopefully it is not serious," she said.

However, the fears were eased about 45 minutes later after word spread that the player himself had said he only suffered a minor knock.

Just over an hour after the panic started, manager Michael O'Neill emerged to confirm Lafferty should be fit for Sunday's opener against Poland.

"He's fine, it was precautionary - there are no major concerns there," he said. "It was a little twist but on examination we don't expect any issues at all." O'Neill added Lafferty was feeling positive ahead of Sunday.

"He's upbeat - probably a bit scared to get in the ice bath, but he's there most days," he explained. "That's the same as he is every day. All is good."

Striker Conor Washington, who was part of the workout session, added: "There are obviously going to be scares when people go down in training, but we are told he's going to be fine and it was just a precaution."

Lafferty scored seven times during the qualifying campaign to propel Northern Ireland to the Euros. Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart did not train yesterday, but their absence was said to be "purely precautionary".

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