The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and Dundee)
Lafferty expected to be fit for Poland opener
Northern Ireland’s talismanic forward looks like being available for clash in Nice
Kyle Lafferty looks set to be fit to face Poland in Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 opener on Sunday after receiving the results of a precautionary scan on his groin problem.
The Irish Football Association has confirmed the 28-year-old forward, who hobbled out of training on Tuesday, underwent tests on the issue which also forced him not to train with the main group during the opening stages of yesterday’s session.
However, Lafferty, who had been on the exercise bike while his colleagues trained in Saint-Georges-de-Reneins, posted a positive message on Twitter along with a thumb’s up emoji and a smiley face to suggest he will be fine for the clash in Nice in four days.
He said the results of the scan were back, and “bring on the Poles”.
The update will come as welcome news to the Northern Irish supporters who had feared they were about to begin their first finals in 30 years without their talismanic forward.
It was Lafferty’s seven goals in qualification that fired the nation to France, and his rejuvenation under manager Michael O’Neill has been a significant reason for their transformation.
Although Lafferty appeared in pain when he left the pitch at a public training session on Tuesday, O’Neill had insisted afterwards that his star striker would be OK to feature on the French Riviera.
“It’s fine, it’s precautionary, we have no major concerns there,” O’Neill had insisted.
“It’s a little twist, but on examination we don’t expect any major issues at all.”
The sight of Lafferty on an exercise bike yesterday, rather than with the main group, had heightened fears.
It was on one of those machines overlooking the pitch that Craig Cathcart did his rehabilitation work in the first two days in France, though the Watford defender was back in the fold yesterday having come off injured against Slovakia last Friday. “It’s fine,” he said of his back problem. “I managed to get through the session today fairly pain free. I’ve still got that little bit of pain there but hopefully that will settle down over the next couple of days and I’ll be ready to go for Sunday.”