Kyle Lafferty has declared himself “fit and raring to go” as Northern Ireland prepare for the next chapter of their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
Michael O’Neill’s side face a crucial double-header over the next four days.
It begins with Friday night’s clash with the Faroe Islands in Torshavn, followed by the visit of Hungary to Windsor Park on Monday.
The outcome of the two qualifiers could go a long way to determining Northern Ireland’s fate in Group F.
They currently sit second in the table, just one point behind Romania – and two ahead of third-placed Hungary.
A significant boost ahead of the latest Euro tests is the fitness of talisman Lafferty.
The Norwich striker has bagged five goals in six qualifiers to date, but a knee injury 10 days into pre-season training threatened to stall the 27-year-old’s international assault.
But after a rigorous recovery programme, Lafferty is ready to get back to action – and reignite his Euro goal mission.
“I think I am probably fitter and sharper than I was going in to the Romania game back in June,” Lafferty said.
“I have worked my backside off on the bike and on the pitch in the past five weeks.
“Getting the injury when I did could not have been worse. It happened 10 days into pre-season and then on my first day back – I did my knee.
“But sometimes things happen for a reason and I am now back to full fitness.
“I’m really looking forward to these games but nothing is better than game time.
“That is the most important thing in football. You can be as fit as a fiddle but it is a different type of fitness.
“Adrenalin will get you through in games and I know I will be ready for both games.
“All that matters at this stage is that we are on the plane to France.”
Lafferty is hoping Northern Ireland can get over the line before next month’s final qualifiers against Greece and Finland.
“If we can get two wins and other results go our way, we can do it in the next two games,” he added.
“I’m excited to be here and I know all the lads feel exactly the same.
“We will be doing everything we can to get the job done but we have another two games next month if we can’t get it done in this double-header.
“I’m sure we’ll be in France next summer.”
Looking ahead to Friday’s game in Torshavn, Lafferty added: “Playing the Faroes is going to be tough. There is no point in looking further ahead than that. There’s no way we expect just to turn up to win the game.”