Hearts boss defends NI striker Kyle Lafferty after Chris Sutton's 'nutter' jibe

Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty, ex-Celtic star Chris Sutton and Hearts boss Craig Levein
Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty, ex-Celtic star Chris Sutton and Hearts boss Craig Levein

Hearts boss Craig Levein has defended Kyle Lafferty, who was described as “a nutter” by outspoken pundit Chris Sutton.

The Hearts manager refused to be drawn into a war of words with the ex-Celtic striker but suggested he may rue some of his comments concerning the Tynecastle forward.

Hearts striker Kyle Lafferty

Hearts striker Kyle Lafferty

“I’m sure Chris will regret it,” said Levein.

“I think it was just a little bit silly. I don’t want to get involved in anything else other than to say that Chris is a decent guy and I’m sure he regrets saying that.

“Since Kyle has been here, I’ve had a brilliant relationship with him. I don’t see anything different. It’s just a normal situation. They [Rangers] have made an offer, we’ve said it’s not enough.”

Lafferty, whose wife Vanessa gave birth to their first baby together yesterday, is the focus of on-going interest from Rangers, whose initial bid of £200,000 for the man who topped the Gorgie club’s scoring charts last term was rebuffed.

But Sutton believes it would be better for all involved if the Northern Ireland striker was to stay put, claiming he would be an underwhelming signing for the Ibrox club and asserting his belief that he would get more game-time at Hearts.

He also questioned the 31-year-old’s influence on the dressing room, describing him as a “time-bomb”.

But Sutton added that he is also a fan of what Lafferty contributed to Hearts’ cause last term and backed the capital club’s stance after they made it clear that they would be looking for an offer of around £750,000 before they would countenance parting with the player, who weighed in with 19 goals in his first season.

“If Rangers did bid £200,000 then that is not enough,” said Sutton. “Why would Hearts let a player go for that paltry sum? If Rangers do want him then they will have to splash the cash.”

Levein said he has no issue with his Premiership foes testing the water with a low bid, saying it is good business, but he maintained that the offer would have to be significantly increased for any deal to be struck.

“They’ve made an offer, it’s not good enough, so we’ll see what happens,” he added. “I’ve had a couple of chats with people at Rangers this week but without there being any other development. The thing isn’t dead but the offer that was made is not good enough.”

He said that Lafferty is aware of the club’s position, having met with owner Ann Budge this week and has remained professional. “This happens at every club all the time but it seems to cause more of a fuss with Kyle than anybody else.

“Kyle is alright. His wife has just given birth so he’s got that to think about. He has been off due to the birth and he will be in a good place because of that, I’m sure, and he’ll be back in training. I plan on him being involved on Saturday.

“He was good when he came on last Sunday and was unlucky not to get a couple of goals. He will be on a high having his child.”

This article first appeared on our sister site, The Scotsman