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Lafferty can be lone Ranger, says Davis


Kyle Lafferty

Kyle Lafferty

Kyle Lafferty

Steven Davis has backed Kyle Lafferty, his Northern Ireland international team-mate, to fill the void left by Rangers strike duo Kenny Miller and Kris Boyd.

Miller is suspended for Saturday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League game at Hamilton, while Boyd is facing several weeks on the sidelines as he recovers from a hernia operation.

That could pave the way for Lafferty to have a crack at playing through the middle for the Scottish champions — the position he craves but has rarely been awarded during his time at Ibrox.

And, having watched his compatriot perform the role so well for Northern Ireland, Davis believes Lafferty can rise to the challenge if given the nod by manager Walter Smith.

The midfielder said: “The big man has been banging on about playing up there. So, if he gets his chance now, he will have to take it!

“I know what he's capable of because he does it for Northern Ireland on a consistent basis and I think that's why the manager signed him, on the back of those performances for his country and for Burnley.

“He's had a bit of an unsettled season but hopefully after getting a couple of goals at the end of last year to get him off the mark, he can kick on from there and start performing to the best of his abilities.”

Lafferty has been no stranger to controversy since his switch from Burnley and found himself back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons again for a horror tackle on Andreas Hinkel during the 1-1 draw at Celtic Park.

Many believe he should have been dismissed for the challenge which earned him a yellow card but Davis insists the big forward is not a dirty player.

“He's definitely not that kind of player,” the midfielder said.

“I think in an Old Firm game you can get caught up in the hype of it all. He was maybe too keen to

try and block the ball and it was a bad challenge but, to be fair, I think he'd hold his hands up to that.

“I don't believe there was any malice in it.”

While backing Lafferty to grab the goals, Davis is also hoping to improve that side of his own game.

He weighed in with eight goals last term but has yet to get off the mark this season after missing a penalty against Unirea Urziceni in the Champions League, before seeing his strike against Dundee United count for nothing when the SPL clash was abandoned.

“It has been frustrating this season because I've had a few opportunities and none more so than the penalty against Unirea,” added Davis.

“It just hasn't happened for me but the most important thing is that the team is winning and at the moment that has been the case.

“Hopefully, I can get one sooner rather than later though and kick-start my season from that point of view.”

Meanwhile, Rangers yesterday refused to comment on reports Nacho Novo and Kirk Broadfoot had been offered new contracts or that the deal recently offered to Boyd has yet to be agreed by the Ibrox money men.

Belfast Telegraph