Kyle Lafferty 'open' to staying at Sarpsborg after short-term contract ends in Norway
Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty has revealed that he would be open to signing a new contract and staying with Sarpsborg 08 if he can help keep them in the top flight of Norwegian football this season.
Having left Rangers in the summer and joined Sarpsborg in August, Lafferty scored his first goal for his latest club on Sunday, finishing brilliantly in the 89th minute to earn his team a vital 1-1 draw at home to Brann.
Lafferty's late strike was crucial as Sarpsborg stayed out of the relegation zone in the Norwegian Eliteserien.
🎯 Sesongens kanskje viktigste scoring fikk Stadion til å eksplodere🔥— Sarpsborg 08 (@Sarpsborg08) October 20, 2019
🗣 - Lag må gjerne komme hit å tro de kan spille oss av banen... Da må de tenke seg om igjen. For vi har et lag som ønsker en fight og en felles belønning på slutten av året, sier målscorer Lafferty. pic.twitter.com/rVHVZs3XhG
With five matches in the campaign left, they are fourth bottom on 24 points ahead of Ranheim and Stromsgodset on goal difference. Mjondalen are on 22 with a game in hand, while Tromso are on 25 in an incredibly tight battle to beat the drop, with the bottom two sides relegated and the third-bottom team entering a survival play-off.
The Fermanagh man has become a strong voice in the dressing room and is enjoying his time in Norway. Lafferty has a good relationship with sporting director Thomas Berntsen.
"After the end of the season, and if we are in the top league, if Thomas wants to sit down with me and have a chat about a contract, I'm more than open to do that," stated 32-year-old Lafferty.
Lafferty continued: "I came here and hadn't played a match for six months and hadn't trained with a team for two months, so I'm still trying to get up to my match fitness.
"Hopefully I'm getting fitter by the day and will get fitter and they'll want to sit down with me at the end of the season about a contract, and if so I'm happy to do that. If not, and we stay in the top league, I'll have done what I was signed to do."
Lafferty, who has scored 20 goals for Northern Ireland, started for Michael O'Neill's team against Holland in their Euro 2020 qualifier earlier this month. Like many strikers, the ex-Rangers ace found it tough going against Virgil van Dijk before being replaced in the second half by Josh Magennis, who opened the scoring prior to the Dutch roaring back to win 3-1.
O'Neill's decision to play Lafferty in such an important fixture was a big boost to the player. So too was his goal at the weekend.
"It's always nice to get your first goal at a new club and I've been here a while. To get that first goal and take a weight off your shoulders is important," said the striker.
"It was also important not to lose the game. We have five games left and they are going to be five cup finals. We are still fighting, and if any team thinks they will come here and play us off the pitch they will think again because we will fight."
Sunday was a far cry from Lafferty's debut when he was sent off in the second half for what the referee deemed two yellow card offences, the first coming after just 14 seconds.
"That was frustrating, getting sent off in my first game. The manner of the sending off was poor," Lafferty told the Sarpsborg club podcast.
"The first booking was 14 seconds in. In the UK you might get a warning, and if it happens again get a yellow, but to get one 14 seconds in was disappointing for me. Later on I got another yellow card due to another poor decision.
"You move on, though, and I've done that. I've enjoyed my time so far and the club have been fantastic. Everyone has made me feel very welcome."
Lafferty is set to be named in O'Neill's squad for next month's Euro double-header with Holland and Germany and is likely to play a part at some stage.