Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland v Romania: Iordanescu fears Kyle Lafferty's strength

By Rory Dollard

Romania boss Anghel Iordanescu believes silencing Kyle Lafferty is the key to his side's crunch Euro 2016 qualifier against Northern Ireland.

Lafferty has had an up and down international career, but is currently riding the crest of a wave, scoring five times to secure victories over Hungary, Greece, the Faroe Islands and Finland.

The only time he has failed to find the net in the campaign came in Bucharest in November, when Romania moved top of Group F with a 2-0 success.

While manager Michael O'Neill will be hoping to coax another totemic performance from the 27-year-old Kesh native, who scored a superb brace against the Finns in March, Iordanescu is planning another shutout.

"Lafferty is a very good player, a strong man," said 65-year-old Iordanescu, who was called out of retirement to take charge of the national side for the third time last year.

"He has good quality and he can play across the full width of the pitch.

"He is able to make the difference in a game, especially when they play the ball from deep.

"We will see how we deal with him, but we hope he will not find a path to goal this time."

Iordanescu is short of full strength for the encounter at Windsor Park, with playmaker Lucian Sanmartean and veteran Razvan Rat failing to respond to a left-field rehabilitation programme involving a Serbian healer known for her use of horse placentas.

Goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, striker Ciprian Marica and midfielder Cristian Tanase are also out, leaving a couple of gaps to fill.

"We are without five of our most important players," the coach said.

"Rat and Sanmartean tried to recover with some late treatment in Serbia but are not okay. We come here in a special situation."

PROBABLE TEAMS: Northern Ireland: McGovern, McLaughlin, Evans, McAuley, Brunt, Baird, Davis, Norwood, Ward, Lafferty, Dallas.

Romania: Tatarusanu, Papp, Grigore, Chiriches, Sapunaru, Pintilii, Prepelita, Maxim, Chipcui, Popa, Keseru.

Belfast Telegraph