Belfast Telegraph

Kyle Lafferty vs Evans, McAuley and Brunt at Carrow Road? Here's hoping

By Steven Beacom

It doesn't happen too often these days but if Norwich City boss Alex Neil plays ball, FOUR Northern Ireland players could be on the pitch in a Premier League match at Carrow Road today.

For the visitors West Bromwich Albion, Gareth McAuley, Jonny Evans and Chris Brunt are all certain starters in defence.

What will interest the Green and White Army is if Norwich's Kyle Lafferty is given the opportunity to take them on.

Canaries boss Neil has been reluctant to even have Lafferty in the matchday squad for away games, but the Fermanagh native tends to be on the bench at home.

How he would relish the chance to take on his international team-mates in the top flight.

Norwich have not won in the league since September 12 and have slipped dangerously close to the relegation zone, so they could do with goals and a victory this afternoon and if Neil needs any more encouragement to use the Kesh man, he should recall Lafferty scored against WBA in a 3-0 Capital One Cup success last month.

The longer, of course, that Lafferty goes without game time, the more likely it is that he will move on. Leeds is one possible destination with news emanating from Yorkshire this week that Massimo Cellino, the owner of the Elland Road outfit, rates Lafferty highly.

Meanwhile, there was concerning news from Old Trafford yesterday when Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal declared that defender Paddy McNair had a "long-term injury".

McNair had to stay in hospital in Helsinki after a 1-1 Euro 2016 qualifying draw with Finland earlier this month.

The initial diagnosis was an abdominal problem potentially leading to two weeks out of action. If Van Gaal's "long-term" prognosis is right, it could be a lot longer.

IFA accept £5,000 fine for Windsor ‘pitch incursions’

The Irish FA have decided not to appeal the Uefa fine of €7,000 (£5,027.16) imposed for ‘pitch incursions’ during and after Northern Ireland’s 3-1 victory over Greece earlier this month at Windsor Park.

That October 8 night, a few supporters got a little carried away with qualifying for Euro 2016 and encroached on to the playing area.

The Uefa Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body took a dim view and handed out the financial punishment.

The IFA, who will make millions from next year’s finals, have accepted it, will pay up and move on.

They are expected to warn the fans though about similar behaviour at Windsor in future games for fear of suffering heavier fines from European football’s governing body. Northern Ireland are scheduled to play again in a friendly next month with manager Michael O’Neill wanting the game in Belfast.

229 days to go!

Belfast Telegraph


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