Norwich City’s Kyle Lafferty could be a man in demand after Northern Ireland heroics
- Credit: PA
Norwich City striker Kyle Lafferty puts his prolific Euro 2016 goalscoring form for Northern Ireland down to the 'best manager' he has worked under in Michael O'Neill.
Lafferty's brace in the 2-1 weekend Windsor Park win over Finland took his tally to five in the current qualifying campaign – just one behind England's Danny Welbeck who is the leading scorer across Europe in the competition.
The 27-year-old has hailed O'Neill's influence, with Northern Ireland a point behind Group F leaders Romania ahead of a massive June meeting in Belfast between the pair.
Lafferty scored only once in 20 senior appearances for Norwich this season following his move from Italian club football, before Alex Neil sanctioned a January loan switch to Turkish outfit Rizespor.
'Michael is the best manager I've played under and he gets the best from me and pulls me to one side before every game,' said Lafferty. 'What he says inspires me and gets me up for the games. I'm buzzing playing for him.
'The last campaign I let everyone down, but Michael had a word with me and it really hit home. The trust he has shown in me means a lot. I don't like calling myself a hero, I think all the boys were heroes out there (against Finland).
'I scored two goals which is brilliant for me personally, but if I don't score another goal in the campaign and we qualify I will be happy enough.
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'We can't get ahead of ourselves but if we keep playing like we are now, it would be a disappointment if we didn't get to the finals. We still have five games to go and everyone is beating everyone. The next game in is going to be massive because it's a top of the table clash.'
Lafferty is contracted to the Canaries until 2017, with a one year option, but national boss O'Neill believes the in-form forward will not be short of potential suitors if he continues to plunder goals in the manner he sunk the Finns.
'There'll be a lot of managers who will look at that performance and be very keen to explore the opportunity of bringing Kyle to their club, if his future is not at Norwich,' said O'Neill. 'Kyle's going on the pitch for Northern Ireland believing he's capable of scoring in every game. He's in the David Healy situation where things at club level maybe aren't going as well as he'd like, given his move to Norwich and subsequent loan move to Rizespor, but when he's played for us in this campaign he's been outstanding.
'Anyone who watched this game, with Kyle in that kind of mood, on that kind of form, has to think if he's not at your club how can you get him at your club? I'm delighted for Kyle. I think there's so much potential in him as a player and it's nice to see him start to fulfil that.'