Michael O’Neill insists the door remains open for Kyle Lafferty despite admitting the striker has “contributed very little” to Northern Ireland’s World Cup campaign.
O’Neill has been less than impressed by the Palermo player since taking over as international boss last year.
In five qualifiers Lafferty has managed no goals, two yellow cards, one sending-off, a couple of injuries and countless offsides.
The former Rangers man’s latest indiscretion was a straight red card against Portugal on Friday – ruling the 25-year-old out of Tuesday’s game in Luxembourg.
“I addressed it with Kyle on Saturday and he was very apologetic,” O’Neill admitted.
“He recognised he had let his team-mates down, but I would never say I have washed my hands of him.
“He can potentially still be a big player and an asset to us but at this moment in time he knows he is not giving us very much.”
Lafferty’s dismissal against Portugal means he did not travel with O’Neill’s squad for Tuesday’s clash in Luxembourg and an expected three-game ban would mean his campaign is over.
“The reality is that he misses this game suspended and I’d say he’ll miss the next two as well, that wouldn’t surprise me,” added O’Neill.
“As I say he was very apologetic and recognised the tackle was a stupid tackle.
“Despite starting the campaign well he has contributed very little, not only for me but for the lads he plays alongside as well.”