Shock has occurred as Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty has mysteriously withdrawn himself from international duty.
The Northern Ireland striker was to join up with his national side on Monday. A key figure for his nation, this will definitely harm their chances against both Austria and Bosnia this week.
It’s not yet been revealed as to why Lafferty is sitting these fixtures out either. The big front-man featured for the final 10 minutes or so against Hearts last weekend. There was no sign at that stage that he was suffering from any knocks or viruses.
Speaking ahead of the meet-up with his squad, Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill expressed his disappointment.
“Kyle Lafferty called me late on Sunday night to tell me that he would not be travelling on Monday to join up with the Northern Ireland squad as expected. I am disappointed that he has ruled himself out of the two games but our focus is on the players who are with us and I will address this situation after the international period.”
What’s wrong with him?
The big question that Rangers fans will now want answered is what’s wrong with the forward? Lafferty continues to be a big part of Steven Gerrard’s plans at Ibrox, and any injury concerns would certainly be unwelcome.
Lafferty has struggled for form and consistency since arriving at Ibrox, however he remains a key man. The form of Alfredo Morelos has led to fewer opportunities than expected, but he’s Rangers’ only alternative up top.
Nobody knows whether he’ll be fit to face Hamilton Accies in a must-win game at New Douglas Park next week. If not, then it will be interesting to see if Umar Sadiq can finally force his way into a match-day squad.
Nigerian forward Sadiq is the only available striking option for the Betfred Cup semi-final against Aberdeen. Gerrard, however, has spoken about how he needs to improve “everything” if he’s to be a Rangers star.
For the time being, hopefully we can learn more about why Lafferty has withdrawn from his national side. It’s very unlike the big forward to do so given his affection and honor in playing for his country. Regardless, here’s hoping it’s not for anything too serious.