1. ITV Report

Lafferty apologises to Rangers boss Gerrard over NI row

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard says Kyle Lafferty has apologised over the row with NI. Credit: PA

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has revealed that he received an apology from Kyle Lafferty over the Northern Ireland striker being barred from playing by the IFA.

Lafferty withdrew at the last minute from Michael O’Neill’s squad for their recent Nations League games against Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

That prompted the IFA to invoke Fifa’s rarely used five-day rule, which blocks players who pull out of internationals from turning out for their club side.

Lafferty will miss the Rangers’ game against Hamilton on Sunday – a move viewed by many supporters of the Scottish club as a draconian overreaction.

Rangers and Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty. Credit: PA

However team boss Gerrard has admitted Lafferty was in the wrong with his midnight call to O’Neill.

“It's a shame because he’s a good player and he’s been in good form since he came in,” he said.

“But we respect and appreciate what's gone on.

“He hasn't followed the protocol and done the right thing, so his punishment is that he can’t play on Sunday and any footballer doesn't like missing games – I can assure you of that.

“I support him, of course I do. I always support my players 100%. He’s come in, apologised for what’s gone on … There's nothing else to add to it.”

We respect Northern Ireland for the punishment they’ve given him and we move on.

– Steven Gerrard, Rangers

The statement Gers’ released on Thursday stated Lafferty remains available for his country.

But Gerrard admits the striker will have to talk it out with O’Neill on whether his controversial withdrawal now threatens his international future.

“That's none of my business, to be brutally honest,” he said.

“It’s between Michael and Kyle to sort out.

“I hope he continues, because I still think he’s got a lot to offer the international scene when I watch him for Northern Ireland. He looks passionate, he looks like he loves it.

“He’s made it clear to me he wants to continue to play and be available, but that’s a conversation between himself and Michael that he will have to thrash out.”