Belfast Telegraph

It's crunch time for Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty at Norwich City

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland star Kyle Lafferty expects to make his first appearance of the season for Norwich City tomorrow night... and if not, he will know he has no future at the club.

The Canaries host West Brom in a Capital One Cup third round tie and with Carrow Road boss Alex Neil set to make changes to the side which drew 1-1 at Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday, Lafferty is primed for action.

The Fermanagh man has not played for Norwich since January, having been sent out on loan by Neil to Turkish side Caykur Rizespor for the second half of last season and being injured at the start of this one.

He was an unused substitute in their 3-1 league win over Bournemouth earlier this month, but somewhat surprisingly didn't make the bench for the game at Anfield.

Determined to prove his worth and show he can produce for Norwich, as he has done for Northern Ireland in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, the Fermanagh man is keen to start against the Baggies tomorrow.

Should he not feature, while keen to stay at Carrow Road, Lafferty will feel he will get more opportunities elsewhere and consider moving on loan to a Championship club, an avenue still open to Premier League players despite the transfer window being closed.

Lafferty has been in sensational form for Northern Ireland over the past year. He has scored seven times in eight Group F games, taking his country to the top of their Euro table and on course for a spot in next year's finals.

The only matches that he has played this season have been for Michael O'Neill's side and he scored in both - the 3-1 win in the Faroe Islands and a 1-1 draw with Hungary at Windsor Park.

O'Neill believes, if given the chance, Lafferty could deliver for Norwich, but there is a feeling that Neil prefers his other strikers.

That suggestion seemed to be confirmed by Neil putting Lewis Grabban, following his recent suspension, on the bench at Liverpool instead of Lafferty (pictured).

Neil said: "I think Lewis knows exactly what I want.

"It was a difficult decision with Kyle to leave him out and he is a bit unfortunate but I have to make the best decisions for the club and Lewis contributed."

Since joining Norwich from Palermo in 2014, Lafferty has scored just once in 18 appearances, though many were not in his favoured central striker position. If given the nod against West Brom tomorrow, he could be up against international team-mates Chris Brunt, Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans.

Belfast Telegraph


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