Belfast Telegraph

Upbeat Lafferty still looking on the bright side

By Laure James

Daniel Lafferty has admitted he would go back in time to replay Northern Ireland's non-event of a double-header, if it were possible.

The first of the back-to-back World Cup qualifiers, against Russia, was postponed twice within 24 hours due to adverse weather conditions and the second match, brimming with chances, ended in a 2-0 win to Israel.

It is unsurprising, therefore, the 23-year old defender would have rather seen events turn out differently.

Lafferty said: "We did look hungry [against Israel] but could I relive the past few days if I had a chance? Yeah, probably.

"I think there were some positives to take, such as how well we prepared going into the game.

"We were unfortunate to have had the Russia game postponed but we've had some valuable time to train and be together as a team."

The Burnley ace was among those keen to exert themselves in the final third, creating solid opportunities to gain an advantage over Israel, but, as with the rest of the team, Lafferty, whose preferred position is left-back, simply couldn't capitalise.

"I think that's our main problem and has been over the past few games; plenty of possession and wanting to get stuck in but just failing to kill anyone off. It was the same against Azerbaijan, we could have had something from that as well.

"We just don't seem to be very clinical in front of goal. We are creating chances, dominating games and having a go but just not putting the ball in the net when it counts.

"We know ourselves that we should have been doing better than that."

While Lafferty returned to Turf Moor yesterday following a critical self-evaluation, international team-mate Josh Magennis enjoyed his Northern Ireland experience.

Earning just his fifth cap since his debut in 2010, the Aberdeen forward explained why his glass was still half-full.

"I am still smiling! It's been a long time really with the game being cancelled last week and it's football, you know, I just love to do it so I just want to carry on and get on with it.

"It was frustrating when I came on, because we were in control. I was along the right then up front and wanted to make a difference in the game but that's football for you."

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is well aware that his side must begin finding the target soon, but with record goalscorer David Healy now limited to cameos from the bench and no natural successor emerging from the pack that will be a challenge.

Belfast Telegraph


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