Belfast Telegraph

Lafferty injury not what we knee-ded

By Mark McIntosh

Northern Ireland’s World Cup hopes will be dealt a blow today when Kyle Lafferty flies back to Glasgow after a scan on his injured knee.

The Rangers striker starred in the first-half of Saturday night’s nail-biting draw in Poland before suffering the injury after a heavy challenge.

And if the damage is confirmed as a medial ligament problem, Lafferty could face up to six weeks on the sidelines and would be a major doubt for the final qualifier against Czech Republic.

Lafferty had hoped the knock was nothing more than bruising of the bone, but as the squad flew back to Belfast yesterday it was clear the problem was likely to rule him out of the home clash with table-toppers Slovakia.

“At the moment we don’t really know what the situation is with Kyle Lafferty,” admitted boss Nigel Worthington.

“We have informed Rangers of the injury and he will have a scan on Monday morning and we’ll take things from there.

“At the moment it would be foolish to say anything else until the medial people give us their opinion.”

If, as expected, the Kesh man does miss out, Worthington’s men will be forced into Plan B.

Lafferty’s pace and direct running caused Poland endless problems on Saturday, but Worthington will take confidence from the memories of beating Slovenia at Windsor Park without a natural target man.

Warren Feeney was the hero that night and Burnley’s Martin Paterson or Sheffield United’s Jamie Ward will hope to repeat the feat against Slovakia.

“It would be a blow if he didn’t make it for Wednesday night,” said Worthington.

“He gives us a different option but if he doesn’t make it someone else will get their chance — and what better time to make yourself a hero.

“There are few knocks and bumps after what was a terrific display on Saturday and we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that everyone is good to go.

“We will look after them as much as possible and then it is all about Slovakia.

“Windsor Park is going to be rocking and we know we have to win. It’s as simple as that.”

Belfast Telegraph


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