Regular readers to the site will be well aware that we defended Kyle Lafferty extensively following the outrage over his withdrawal.
Sadly, we have to retract much of that defence and admit the lad got this badly wrong and has let pretty much everyone down here.
We cited how he’d withdrawn on an injury basis, and that seemed fair enough, and why should the Irish FA and Michael O’Neill perpetuate offence at this.
What was less clear was quite how late in the day Lafferty had made the call, and how short he’d left his national manager up front as a result.
The IFA have now invoked a FIFA clause which stops a player playing for his employing club for up to five days after an international break if he withdraws, and quite honestly we really don’t blame them.
Lafferty knew he had an Achilles problem, and should have informed his NT that he wasn’t fit in considerable advance, and by calling O’Neill at 00:00 the day before he was needed, he’s shown a real lack of respect for his national coach and for his country.
We don’t mean this as a hatchet job, because we know Lafferty, while daft as a brush, is a good guy and one of us.
But he’s prone to these gaffes, these mistakes, these absolute lapses of judgement and he’s unfortunately been guilty of one here.
We can’t defend him on any level over this – and we do retract the earlier sentiments we had of doing so.
We admit a touch of hypocrisy too – if he was playing better we might well have cut him slack, but he really hasn’t done it at Ibrox, sadly, so the old ‘as long as he’s delivering on the pitch’ get out clause for all manner of offences isn’t in his locker this time.
Rangers will now be lacking his services on Sunday, meaning other than Alfredo Morelos, Rangers will have no legitimate striker in the match day squad.
It’s a must-win game – Rangers must finally put this horrific away record to bed and show the Fortress of Ibrox isn’t the only place we can get three points.
But it’ll be without Lafferty.