Belfast Telegraph

Lafferty’s keen to forget early season woes

By Stuart McKinley

Kyle Lafferty has endured a season of frustration so far — and he wants to take it out on Poland.

The Rangers striker has yet to play in the Scottish Premier League due to the suspension he picked up when found guilty of play-acting after a clash with Aberdeen’s Charlie Mulgrew at the tail end of last season.

He did play in last month’s friendly against Israel and scored a hat-trick in a reserve team friendly last week.

That means he is fresh, ready to go and primed to go on the attack against the Poles as he aims to shoot Northern Ireland to the World Cup.

“It’s been a frustrating start to the season having to sit out, but the lads have done well at Rangers and I know it will be hard for me to get back into the team,” said Lafferty.

“It’s good for me to come away with Northern Ireland now and I feel ready after doing extra training because I haven’t been playing games.

“I scored against San Marino and I definitely want to get a few more goals. I’ve missed three or four games in this campaign as well.

“Now I want to help the team out and make a contribution in taking us where we want to be — in the World Cup.”

Lafferty turns 22 in just less than a fortnight’s time and is among what is now an ever increasing number of players in the squad who weren’t born when Northern Ireland last played in a World Cup finals.

“It’s long overdue,” said the man from Kesh.

“I think we’ve got the players in the squad to take us there. Some excellent young players and some top senior pros.

“We have the quality to push on now and try to qualify for the World Cup.

“It’s in our own hands and rather than looking to finish second and get through a play-off we want to win the group and we are more than capable of that.

“Everyone knows what we can do, how well we can play and it’s about us, not about Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. We’re focussed on ourselves and the job we have to do.

“It would be amazing if we can do it.

“Every young player wants to play for their country and to go on and do that in a World Cup would be immense.

“Everyone in the squad is working hard to do everything we can to get the results that we need to qualify.”

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