Belfast Telegraph

Kyle Lafferty: Northern Ireland striker joins Norwegian strugglers and vows to help save top flight place

Kyle Lafferty has moved to Norway.
Kyle Lafferty has moved to Norway.

Northern Ireland forward Kyle Lafferty has completed a move to Norway after his departure from Rangers.

The 31-year-old's disappointing second spell at Ibrox came to an end when he left the club by mutual consent last month.

He turned down the chance to stay in the Scottish Premiership with Kilmarnock and has now been unveiled as the newest signing for Norwegian side Sarpsborg 08.

The club are currently sitting bottom of Norway's top division, the Eliteserien, after 19 matches.

That gives Lafferty 11 matches to help his new side stave off relegation. Sarpsborg are currently four points off a play-off place and five points off safety.

"I'm here to score goals and work really hard for the team," he said. “I want to come up with something different and an experience I hope the team will enjoy.

“I'm a big, strong striker. I know tough battles are coming, but I'm always ready for a fight. It's going to be 90 minutes with tough battles.

“I'm here to help save the club's place in the Eliteserien and I'm really looking forward to it

“I hope we can start on Sunday (at home to mid-table Viking) with three points and maybe a goal or two.”

Lafferty has not scored for Northern since November 2016, when he netted against Azerbaijan.

He will hope that his latest move can provide a timely boost on the international stage, with Laferty crunch Euro 2020 qualifiers against Germany and the Netherlands fast approaching.

Speaking before Lafferty's move was announced early on Monday morning, international boss Michael O'Neill said that the striker still had a big part to play for his country.

"As long as he is playing at a good level of football then he is still an asset to us," O'Neill said.

"It's a difficult one for an international manager because you want your players signed and playing but the player has to do what is right for him as well.

"It's not just a case of signing for a club and playing, there's the financial aspect and Kyle is coming 32 now and he is not going to sign many more contracts so this is a very important contract for him.

"This is at the tail end of his career. I do feel for him and have been in contact with him quite a bit and any help I can offer will be there."

Sarpsborg, meanwhile, are confident their new recruit can spell a more successful second half of their domestic campaign.

"In Kyle Lafferty we get a player with close to 500 games at a good level," said director of football Thomas Berntsen.

"He has over 70 caps and 20 goals for Northern Ireland. Lafferty is a strong character who is dominant with his head in both boxes.(He is) a real warrior we hope to enjoy this season.

"We hope and believe he can help tilt matches in our favour. He is a player who likes to battle. There will be some yellow cards, but also many goals."

Michael O'Neill will announce his Northern Ireland squad tomorrow (11am) for the upcoming friendly against Luxembourg and Euro 2020 qualifier at home to Germany.

Despite Lafferty's lack of game time, O'Neill may opt to include him in his squad. The boss also has a big call to make on former Rangers defender Gareth McAuley, who is on the lookout for a new club.

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