Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland will 'punish' visiting teams at Windsor Park, vows Lafferty

Solo mission: Kyle Lafferty wants to regain his form from the Euro 2016 qualifiers
Solo mission: Kyle Lafferty wants to regain his form from the Euro 2016 qualifiers

By Graham Luney

Kyle Lafferty has a smile on his face after sealing a dream return to Rangers and he's in the mood to deliver for club and country.

Lafferty's career hasn't always been a smooth road, but the switch to Ibrox has put a spring in the big man's step.

His class in front of goal can never be questioned, and Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill is hoping to see a repeat of the blistering form he showed at the start of Euro 2016 qualifying when he netted in the first three matches against Hungary, the Faroe Islands and Greece.

Bosnia and Herzegovina are the opponents at Windsor Park tomorrow as the new Uefa Nations League gets up and running, with Northern Ireland knowing the importance of a strong start to gain confidence and momentum.

The good news is that Lafferty, who has netted 20 goals in 67 Northern Ireland appearances, is poised to make another big impact.

Following his return to the Gers, he scored two goals on his league debut against Motherwell in a dramatic 3-3 draw, and if he can again bring his shooting boots to the international stage then Northern Ireland will be within striking distance of making the Euro 2020 finals.

"For the first time with Northern Ireland we are no longer the underdogs," said the former Burnley and Norwich man. "Teams will come here and they'll be wary of us.

"Any team that comes here and disrespects us will be punished. We have players through the whole squad now, not just the starting XI, that will get the chance and will punish teams.

"It's an exciting time and we'll look to try and do everything we can to get to a major tournament.

"I'm looking to go into this campaign in the same manner as I did when we qualified for Euro 2016 and try and approach each game as well as I can.

"Hopefully I can score enough goals that will take us to another tournament.

"Bosnia will be a hard game. They have some impressive players, but we have a good squad, and the bond we have in the squad and what it means for us to play for Northern Ireland, it takes us through the toughest games, and at the end of it we become winners, and it has been like that for the past four or five years.

"There's competition for places but it's a good feeling that you are going to have to train well and produce in games or you are going to lose your place."

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