DAN’S THE MAN

How Daniel Laf­ferty aims to re­vive his for­tunes at Sh­effield United

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

DANIEL Laf­ferty says the agony of miss­ing out on Euro 2016 con­vinced him to aban­don his Premier League dream to make a fresh start at Sh­effield United.

Laf­ferty, 27, joined Burn­ley from Derry City in 2012 but stiff com­pe­ti­tion at Turf Moor saw him fea­ture just once in the last two years.

And de­spite a loan spell at Old­ham and a cameo in North­ern Ire­land’s fi­nal warm-up game against Wales, Michael O’Neill axed Laf­ferty from his 23-man squad, ad­mit­ting a lack of game time had cost the full-back his place on the plane.

So while his mates bat­tled through to the last 16, earn­ing an his­toric vic­tory over Ukraine along the way, Laf­ferty watched in pur­ga­tory from his sofa.

“It was a very bit­ter­sweet ex­pe­ri­ence,” ex­plains the left­back. “Ob­vi­ously you want the lads to do well. I was cheer­ing them on like every­body else.

“But it was very hard to sit at home watch­ing on TV know­ing I’d come so close to be­ing a part of it. Ev­ery time they played I was think­ing ‘I should be out there on that pitch’.

“That was the mo­ti­va­tion. My in­ter­na­tional ca­reer has suf­fered in the last year-and-ahalf. I missed the cut again this week­end.

“Com­ing here is a chance to get back on track. I just want to get reg­u­lar games, show that I’m match fit, and hope­fully prove to Michael that I merit a place in his team again.”

For Laf­ferty, signed on a sea­son-long loan, Wed­nes­day’s switch to Bra­mall Lane rep­re­sented his first ex­pe­ri­ence of dead­line day may­hem.

“It all hap­pened pretty quickly, which I sup­pose it had to,” says Laf­ferty, whose Clarets con­tract ex­pires in May. “As the day went on, it got pro­gres­sively more likely and at 4pm I got a phone call say­ing ‘Get in the car and drive to Sh­effield’. I hit the road and that was it.

“It’s not par­tic­u­larly en­joy­able, though I might think dif­fer­ently if I was fly­ing around in a he­li­copter and be­ing signed for £50m!”

Laf­ferty will join fel­low new boys Caolan Lav­ery and Ethan Ebanks-Lan­dell in the squad for to­day’s clash at Gilling­ham, with Chris Wilder’s pre-sea­son favourites seek­ing to ban­ish mem­o­ries of a woe­ful start with a sec­ond suc­ces­sive win. And the North­ern Ir­ish­man says it is high time their six-year stint in League One came to an end. “I had other op­tions but once I heard United wanted me, it was a no-brainer,” he says. “It’s an ab­so­lutely huge club, a Premier League club re­ally. You just need to look at the fan base and the stature. “They’ve been in this divi­sion too long and I can’t wait to get started try­ing to change that. It’s been ex­tremely frus­trat­ing watch­ing other peo­ple play these past two years. I just want to re­mind peo­ple what I can do.” Mean­while, Gilling­ham boss Justin Edinburgh says he is ready to wel­come back both Ryan Jack­son and Jamie O’Hara this af­ter­noon, while new sign­ing Baily Cargill could make his de­but. Both right-back Jack­son and for­mer Spurs cen­tral mid­fielder O’Hara have missed Gilling­ham’s last two league matches with fit­ness con­cerns. But, as the Gills bid for a fourth league win of the sea­son to ce­ment their place in the up­per ech­e­lons of League One, it would ap­pear Edinburgh has his cavalry to call upon. O’Hara fea­tured in the mid­week Check­a­trade Tro­phy clash with Lu­ton and Edinburgh said: “I am pleased he came back in. He got 45 min­utes and looked a class act. I can’t re­mem­ber him giv­ing the ball away. “With an­other two or three games, we know what we are go­ing to have on our hands.” Though Jack­son missed the match with Lu­ton as he con­tin­ues to re­cover from a groin in­jury, he looks set to play his part to­day along with de­fender Cargill who has joined from Bournemouth on loan.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

TIME TO MAKE UP: Daniel Laf­ferty, seen here in Burn­ley colours, is out to im­press at Sh­effield United

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