Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill believes Norwich City striker Kyle Lafferty deserves more minutes ahead of Euros

Kyle Lafferty heads for goal. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Kyle Lafferty heads for goal. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Kyle Lafferty needs more game-time before next summer's Euro 2016 finals, either at Norwich City or elsewhere – according to his Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill.

Lafferty has barely featured for Alex Neil's side so far this season, playing the final 18 minutes of City's FA Cup exit on Saturday and a total of just 27 minutes in the Premier League. His one goal for City this season came in the Capital One Cup victory over West Brom.

In stark contrast, the front man managed seven goals in just nine matches for his country to help them qualify for the finals of a major tournament for the first time since 1986.

Leeds have enquired about taking Lafferty on loan for the rest of the season but the City boss will only consider a permanent switch for the 28-year-old during the current window. All of which could restrict Lafferty's chances to prepare in the best way possible for his exciting summer ahead.

'It has been a very difficult time for him because at Norwich, I do not think he has had much opportunity,' O'Neill told Goals on Sunday.

'He spent six months on loan at Caykur Rizespor in Turkey last year primarily to get games so that he would be able to play, and be at his best in the international games – and he was fantastic against Finland, scored two great goals for us, and played well against Romania in June for us as well.

'So I think his situation – it is not ideal for him. Club managers have a difficult job, they have to pick their squad however they feel.

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'But certainly in his case, I do not think he has had very much opportunity. The minutes have been very, very limited.

'And I just hope whether it is at Norwich or not, that between now and the finals he gets the opportunity to show what a good player he is, because for us he has been absolutely phenomenal.'

• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey

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