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Sunderland boss hails 'great weapon' Kyle Lafferty after striker helps seal win over Ipswich

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Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty joined League One Sunderland last month (Steven Paston/PA)

Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty joined League One Sunderland last month (Steven Paston/PA)

Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty joined League One Sunderland last month (Steven Paston/PA)

Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson had special praise for Kyle Lafferty after his side shot their way into the play-off positions on Saturday.

The Northern Ireland striker was introduced off the bench with 11 minutes to play against Ipswich at the Stadium of Light.

Just a couple of minutes later, he slid a sidewards pass for winger Chris Maguire to slam home from outside the box and earn a 1-0 win.

It was Lafferty's fourth substitute appearance since joining the Black Cats last month and the second time a winner has arrived after his introduction.

Parkinson went on to reveal that the frontman had been close to being handed his first start for the club but also highlighted the benefits of keeping Lafferty among the substitutes.

“Kyle was a little bit unlucky not to start because Charlie (Wyke) has had a bad shoulder this week but today he was desperate to play and that’s the kind of character we need," said the boss.

“Lafferty was in the team shape yesterday (Friday) for bits of it because I wasn’t sure what we were going to do personnel-wise, but he showed the right attitude when he came on and he gave us a lift.

“When an opposing team is tired and you suddenly throw on Lafferty with his physicality, he’s a great weapon to have from the bench.”

While his three previous appearances arrived as first choice forward Wyke's replacement, this time Lafferty joined the 27-year-old as a strike partner for the closing stages to help Sunderland leapfrog their visitors into sixth in the table, just eight points off first place.

The courageous move wasn't one made lightly by Parkinson, who had initially intended to bring on wide-man Duncan Watmore to replace Denver Hume in a like-for-like move to protect the 3-4-3 formation.

"It was a difficult call because I felt the shape of the team was working well and causing them a lot of problems. We looked like the team that was going to win it,” Parkinson explained.

"I just felt at the time that Lafferty’s physicality up there with Charlie, and Chris in behind them, might just give (Ipswich) something else to think about.

“Sometimes it goes for you and it sometimes it doesn’t, but it worked."

Northern Ireland centre-back Tom Flanagan played all 90 minutes for Sunderland while right-back Conor McLaughlin was introduced as a late substitute.

Sunderland are back in action on Tuesday evening, when they host 18th place Rochdale.

Belfast Telegraph