Kyle Lafferty’s Norwich City exile is not good news for Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill

Norwich City striker Kyle Lafferty remains on the fringes at Carrow Road. Picture: Jasonpix

Norwich City striker Kyle Lafferty remains on the fringes at Carrow Road. Picture: Jasonpix - Credit: JASON DAWSON

Northern Ireland chief Michael O'Neill admits Kyle Lafferty's limbo at Norwich City is an unwanted headache as he plans for his country's Euro 2016 bow.

Lafferty has played only 13 minutes in the Premier League this season for the Canaries and his last appearance came in the FA Cup third round defeat to Manchester City on January 9.

The striker has been heavily touted with a loan move to Championship club Leeds United but Alex Neil reiterated recently he would only sanction the forward's exit on his terms. The 28-year-old's prolific goalscoring form fired his country to the finals in France this summer and Lafferty's place in the squad is assured.

'It's very frustrating for Kyle,' O'Neill said at a pre-Euro 2016 press event in Paris earlier this week. 'I had hoped that the situation may have been resolved in January.

'Any manager, you always want you want your players playing. It's easier for Kyle if he's playing first-team football as well.

'We've got a month between when the Premier League season finishes and when the tournament starts so we'll have to be very careful. We'll have to tailor our programme specifically for Kyle to make sure he's right to play.

'I mean he's in no jeopardy of not coming to the tournament. But I think his frustration has boiled down to the fact that really he's not been given the chance at the end of the day. I think he's played less than 60 minutes of football this season for Norwich so it's not as if he's had the opportunity and hasn't performed.

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'So I can understand his frustrations. But equally he's still hugely important to us. Along with his co-operation -- he's fully focused -- we have to make sure that he's right and he's going to have a good tournament.'

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