OPINION: Either Lafferty moves on or NI do

Kyle Lafferty cut a frustrated figure in Prague. Pic: William Cherry / Presseye
Kyle Lafferty cut a frustrated figure in Prague. Pic: William Cherry / Presseye

Either Kyle Lafferty moves on or Northern Ireland do.

That’s possibly a rather harsh way to put it for a man who, a year ago, was the undisputed hero of the GAWA.

Kyle Lafferty's over-head-kick attempt against Czech Republic 
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Kyle Lafferty's over-head-kick attempt against Czech Republic Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

But if the Norwich forward doesn’t start to pick up more minutes at club level, his place in Michael O’Neill’s starting XI could be up for grabs.

He’s caught in no man’s land at the Canaries - not starting but not being allowed to leave either. And his lack of minutes showed on the pitch in Prague.

At his press conference before the game back in Belfast, O’Neill said that a lack of club football will eventually catch up with players on the international scene. For Kyle, that time is fast arriving.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the Enniskillen man. I’m young enough to have lined up for his autograph. And up until this campaign, he was always the first name on my team-sheet.

Czech Republic's Pavel Kaderabek with Northern Ireland's  Jonny Evans during Sundays World Cup 2018 Qualifier at the Generali Arena, Prague.   Photo by William Cherry

Czech Republic's Pavel Kaderabek with Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans during Sundays World Cup 2018 Qualifier at the Generali Arena, Prague. Photo by William Cherry

But his club frustrations can’t be allowed to hamper Northern Ireland’s campaign, especially given Magennis’ lively display off the bench.

As for the positives, well I’d start with the full-backs. Ferguson and McLaughlin were solid as Carl Frampton’s abs - and both can provide a big threat going forward.

Steve Davis’ masterful midfield display is a given, as is Jonny Evans’ Rolls Royce defending. It was ever thus.

And at least the Czechs didn’t score. Somehow. A point’s a smashing one for us. As we say on the golf-course, there are no pictures on the scorecard.

Czech Republic's Vladimir Darida with Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas.  Photo by William Cherry

Czech Republic's Vladimir Darida with Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas. Photo by William Cherry

But please, Norwich, play him or let him go. For us.