Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has dropped some significant hints about the future of striker Kyle Lafferty, after letting slip that the NI forward speaks to him ‘a lot’ and all players in this squad ‘have had chances’ to prove themselves.
The former Hearts man came back to Ibrox amidst much fanfare and a £750K price tag last summer, but after a modestly promising start, he faded dramatically and has barely been involved in the past six months.
Gerrard conceded the lanky forward was effectively an issue, and that his omission from the Celtic squad was selection-based and nothing else.
“I always talk to my players, my door’s open all the time, sometimes they come in to see me sometimes I ask them for a chat. All the players in the dressing room have had enough opportunities, enough chances, they get opportunities every single day to impress and play and I select the players who I think are the best to get the job done. A lot of that comes from training. A lot of it comes from games. A lot of it comes from stuff on and off the pitch. I don’t think there’s anyone in that dressing room that can point fingers when it comes to getting opportunities. I’ve spoken to Kyle a lot and it’s different – sometimes he comes to see me, sometimes I ask to see him. It’s not just one occasion or two occasions, I’ve spoken to Kyle a lot.”
Without being explicit, reading between the lines with the barbed tongue Stevie is clearly speaking through here Lafferty just hasn’t impressed either on or off the pitch under this manager, and if Gerrard could be shot of him this summer it’s probably the boss’s preference.
Lafferty is notorious for high maintenance, as well as a few alleged off-field indiscretions not to mention his well-documented issues with the disease of gambling, and unless a player like that is able to compensate his baggage with goals and assists and performances on the pitch when called upon, no amount of ‘talking’ behind the scenes is going to endear him to the management.
We rated Lafferty very highly, and in his defence he’s suffered the complete immunity of Alfredo Morelos (as Jermain Defoe has, of course) and his guaranteed selection if available, but we admit when he has come in he’s not delivered impressive cameos either – for example, McCrorie, in from the cold, while not remarkable on Sunday still produced something pretty reasonable.
Lafferty has failed to do even half of that given the chance and has of course only scored 2 goals in 8 appearances this calendar year, compared with Jermain Defoe managing 5 in 13 plus 4 assists despite his similarly patchy appearances and brief cameos.
We wanted the big man to work out, we really did, but it’s not been good enough. If he’s not involved tonight from the start it probably is the end.