Kyle Lafferty vows to pay debt to Michael O’Neill with goals as he takes thinly-veiled dig at Alex Neil
- Northern Ireland beat San Marino 4-0 at Windsor Park on Saturday night
- Kyle Lafferty came off bench in 79th minute to score two and set up one
- He has played 28 minutes of Championship football for Norwich this term
- Lafferty: ‘In club football, I don’t really have a manager who has a lot of faith in me like Michael [O’Neill] has, and I’m repaying him by getting goals’
Kyle Lafferty is back among the goals for Northern Ireland, but whether he will be back in the team against world champions Germany on Tuesday night is another matter altogether.
The Norwich City striker came off the bench in the 79th minute to score twice and set up another as Michael O’Neill’s side beat San Marino 4-0 in Group C at Windsor Park.
O’Neill admits it is difficult to put his talisman in the starting line-up when he has played just 28 minutes of Championship football under Alex Neil at Norwich so far this season.
Kyle Lafferty celebrates after scoring against San Marino at Windsor Park on Saturday
Striker Lafferty nets one of his two goals for Northern Ireland in the World Cup qualifier
Lafferty, 29, is set to leave Carrow Road in the January transfer window, but may have to accept being an impact substitute for his country until then despite ending a five-game barren run by taking his tally to nine goals in his last 11 qualifiers.
Asked if this is the toughest period of his career, Lafferty said: ‘It probably is. I want to play as many games for Northern Ireland as I can. Not starting, I’m always going to be disappointed.
‘But if the manager says I’m not fit enough and I’m going to be better for the team playing 30 minutes and not starting, I have to respect that.
‘It’s not all about me. There are players playing club football and if I was in their shoes I’d be asking questions why I wasn’t starting.
‘I’m just trying to get as many minutes under my belt and hopefully in January I’ll be playing first team football and be fitter.
‘I know my international record to club football is completely different. In club football, I don’t really have a manager who has a lot of faith in me like Michael has, and I’m repaying Michael by getting goals and three points.’
Michael McGovern (left) produced a world-class performance against Germany at Euro 2016
Northern Ireland face the Germans in Hannover nearly four months after losing 1-0 to Joachim Low’s side in Paris at Euro 2016.
Only a world-class performance from goalkeeper Michael McGovern saved his team from a much heavier defeat that day. It earned him a move from Hamilton Academical to Norwich where, unlike Lafferty, he is a regular starter.
McGovern said: ‘There was a bit of interest in England before the tournament but obviously after it, it really snowballed and offers rushed in.
‘I don’t talk about the Germany game in France that much, to be honest. I haven’t watched it back or anything.
‘I’d like to think I won’t be just as busy this time, but I will be prepared for every eventuality.’
Goalkeeper McGovern (right) smiles after keeping a clean sheet in Belfast on Saturday