Former Rangers player Dean Shiels says that striker Kyle Lafferty is “over the moon” to have secured a move back to Ibrox this summer but that he will not sacrifice his international career with Northern Ireland for the club.
The Light Blues brought the experienced hitman back to Glasgow from Hearts in the off-season and has enjoyed a bright return to the club, but is at the heart of a situation which has seen the Northern Irish FA prevent him from playing for the Gers after his withdrawal from international duty.
Speaking about the incident, Shiels, who played alongside Lafferty on the international stage, says that while he loves playing for Rangers, the striker is too loyal to his country and will not sacrifice his availability for the club.
He told the Evening Times: “He loves his country. I think he will return. He played his best football for Northern Ireland. He won’t turn his back on that lightly.
“Kyle loves Rangers, that’s for sure. He was over the moon to get his move back and he’s hit the ground running as well. But I played with Kyle for Northern Ireland and I know he was very proud to play for his country too.
“I don’t think he’ll give that up just to concentrate on Rangers. I don’t know the reasons behind what happened. It’s becoming a bit messy. It isn’t good for Rangers either. They want him playing. It isn’t good for Northern Ireland either. It isn’t good for either of them.”
No one would have expected Lafferty to have turned his back on his country for Rangers, but whether manager Michael O’Neill will be willing to give him the chance to return to action for the Northern Irish national side remains to be seen. Lafferty has had his issues over the years with discipline both on and off the field, and it might be that his international boss sees this as another situation where the player is trying to bend the rules. The country have already punished Lafferty and Rangers by preventing him playing against Hamilton this weekend, and everyone at Ibrox will be hoping that is the end of things, and that the striker can get back on playing for his club, and potentially his country. It cannot be easy when you have two loyalties, Lafferty evidently proud to play for the Gers as well as Northern Ireland, but no one is expecting him to make a choice between the two. If they did, it would be interesting to see who he picked.