Michael O’Neill voices concerns over Kyle Lafferty sharpness ahead of Euro 2016

Kyle Lafferty
Kyle Lafferty

Kyle Lafferty’s lack of playing time at Norwich is a cause for concern for Michael O’Neill as Northern Ireland try to get their talisman up to speed ahead of Euro 2016.

The 28-year-old has played a combined 45 minutes in three substitute’s appearances for the Canaries this term and is unlikely to add to that before the campaign ends if the loan window shuts on Thursday without him leaving.

His position at international level is secured, though, following seven goals in a qualifying campaign that saw Northern Ireland reach their first major international tournament in 30 years.

However, with only four friendlies to come before that competition in France – including Thursday’s clash with Wales in Cardiff – O’Neill admits Lafferty’s club situation is worrying given his value to Northern Ireland.

“There’s always a concern when you have such an important player in your team not playing,” he said.

“If you look back at the qualification games, he came into the games in September without any football and scored in both the Faroes and Hungary game.

“We saw a little bit of a lack of match sharpness in the following games. We just have to see how it is.

“It’s a situation that I can’t change. I know that Kyle’s concerned about it but I know he’s working hard to make sure he’s in the best shape possible to play. Whatever we get out of him, it’s a step for him in terms of his preparations for the finals.

“We will have a month, minimum, to get Kyle fit leading into the opening game. We’re already assuming his club situation doesn’t change. We’re already discussing how we can have him in the best shape possible for the finals.”