Belfast Telegraph

Kyle Lafferty tipped to return and deliver for Northern Ireland again

In air: Kyle Lafferty has been left out of the Northern Ireland squad
In air: Kyle Lafferty has been left out of the Northern Ireland squad

By Steven Beacom

Kyle Lafferty still has much to offer Northern Ireland, according to his one-time club and international team-mate Aaron Hughes.

Striker Lafferty was left out of Michael O'Neill's squad for Thursday's friendly at home to Luxembourg and Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier versus Germany due to a lack of game time after leaving Scottish club Rangers in the summer.

The 31-year-old made his debut for new club Sarpsborg in Norway on Sunday but was sent off in the 68th minute in a 2-2 draw with Viking.

Hughes, who played with Lafferty at Hearts before the forward returned for a second spell at Ibrox, said: "I know how desperate Kyle is to be back playing again. I think he has plenty of years left in him and there is no reason why he can't do well going forward. Northern Ireland need his ability.

"It was unfortunate that the move to Rangers didn't work out. That happens.

"Sometimes, because it is Kyle, people speculate why it didn't work out, and with it being Rangers there is lots of talk, but sometimes in football things just don't happen the way you want and you have to bounce back.

"When he went to Hearts he was very much going there to make a statement, get himself some goals and play regularly. That's what he did and he deservedly got his big move to Rangers after that.

"Kyle is a very talented footballer and knows where the goal is. In the campaign we qualified for Euro 2016 he scored some very important goals and a lot of it was down to his own personal technique and being in the right position.

"If he can play regularly at club level that can only be good for Northern Ireland as a team going forward."

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