Worthington waits on news of Lafferty scan
Soccer:Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty is facing a race to be fit for the key World Cup qualifier against Slovakia and will have a scan on his knee tomorrow.
Lafferty limped off in the second half of yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Poland because of the problem after a heavy challenge - which came with Northern Ireland in the driving seat, after he had made the breakthrough in the 37th minute.
Nigel Worthington’s side were within sight of a superb victory only for Mariusz Lewandowski to equalise 20 minutes from time.
Lafferty will be closely monitored, and the manager said: “The situation with Kyle is ongoing, but we will know more after the scan.”
Motherwell defender Stephen Craigan certainly hopes Lafferty makes it.
“Kyle was having a great game and asking questions of Poland,” said Craigan. “He was winning things in the air and getting in behind them.
“That was his best 45 minutes in a Northern Ireland jersey, but then unfortunately he had to come off.”
Lafferty showed a cool head to drill a shot under Artur Boruc after a flowing move involving Damien Johnson and David Healy.
The Poles, looking for a victory to re-ignite their campaign, were rattled and almost conceded a second goal in the 65th minute.
Lafferty’s replacement Martin Paterson latched on to ball from Steven Davis, only to fire wide of Boruc’s post.
It proved to be a costly miss by the hard-working Burnley striker, with the home side regrouping and snatching a point late on.
Paterson was distraught at the final whistle, and Worthington admitted it was a key moment.
He said: “I imagine Martin is the same as all strikers - he would love to hit the back of the net.
“The goals Martin has scored over the years at his clubs, you would put good money on him putting it away.
“So he is disappointed. If we had got it, we would probably have won the game.”
Craigan, however, believes there is reason to be optimistic with two matches remaining. They will go top of the group, should victory be achieved against the leaders in Belfast on Wednesday.
He said: “We have a couple of games to go and have a good chance of qualifying. The most important thing is we are progressing as a team.
“A few years ago, we might have been slightly overawed going to Poland. But we showed composure and our stature.”
Slovakia had to settle for a point against the Czech Republic, and captain Aaron Hughes said: “The result in this game has gone for us as well.
“We will take plenty of confidence going into the match on Wednesday, although we are a bit disappointed not to get all three points against Poland.
“We played well in the first half and kept them quiet. We knew they would come at us in the second half but they did not create many clear-cut chances.”
Worthington wants his side to go for broke at Windsor Park, where they have proved to be difficult opponents in big games in recent years .
He said: “It is very simple - we have got to go for the win. We are at home in front of a very passionate crowd.
“We find ourselves in a magnificent situation with two games to go. My job now is to make sure we get the players physically and mentally right.“
Worthington has welcomed back Chris Brunt following a calf injury and Chris Baird after suspension.
However, George McCartney has been ruled out after damaging his hamstring in training.