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Kyle Lafferty's loan hopes hit the buffers

By Stuart McKinley

Kyle Lafferty looks set to remain in limbo at Norwich City for the rest of the season after his hopes of securing a loan move to Leeds United took a hit.

The Northern Ireland striker was understood to be a target for Leeds manager Steve Evans, but the Elland Road boss appears to have ruled out a move for Lafferty.

While Lafferty has this summer's Euro 2016 finals in mind, Evans is planning further ahead and wants to bring in players that will benefit the club in the long term rather than just this season.

And that could mean that Lafferty, who has made just three first-team appearances for the Canaries this season, is stuck in oblivion at Carrow Road.

"We are working hard to strengthen the squad, but it must be with a plan to be going forward with us beyond an eight or nine week period," said Evans.

"We can't be a club that is used to get players fit for the Euros. We need to be a club that when we add to the squad, it is a player that will be part of the plan next season."

One Northern Ireland player who has made a loan move is Chris Baird.

He has joined his former club Fulham on loan after falling out of favour at Derby County.

Derby are currently in the play-off positions, while Fulham are just six points above the relegation trap door at the opposite end of the table but Baird, who previously spent six seasons at Craven Cottage after being signed by former Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez in July 2007, jumped at the chance to return to the club.

"I've been in the squads at Derby, but I wasn't making the bench, so that said it all to me," said Baird.

"I wanted to get out and play some football, especially with a big summer coming up for me."

After making only 14 league appearances for Derby this season Baird is now in line to start in his second spell at Fulham when they play Charlton Athletic in a London derby tomorrow.

The versatile Ballymena-born 34-year-old is sure to be in Michael O'Neill's squad for the Euro 2016 finals in France this summer, but that wasn't the key motivation in making the move.

"It's a big part of it but I'm not concentrating solely on the European Championships," he said.

The Irish FA have forced Uefa to cough up over 600 more tickets for Northern Ireland's matches at the European Championship finals, in addition to the extra allocation secured for the opening game against Poland last week.

A further 505 tickets have been made available for the second game against Ukraine in Lyon, with 93 more for the meeting with world champions Germany in Paris. That comes after a further 1,276 tickets were allocated for the Poland game.

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