Wednesday, October 5, 2022

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Kyle Lafferty has been dropped from the Northern Ireland squad amid investigations into alleged ‘sectarian’ language

Kyle Lafferty has been dropped from the Northern Ireland squad after a video of him using sectarian language surfaced on social media.

When a Celtic fan posing with Lafferty on the video shouted “up the Celts” at the camera, former Rangers forward Lafferty responded by calling him a “Fenian b*****d”.

Lafferty’s current club Kilmarnock have launched an inquiry and Northern Ireland announced he has been dropped from the squad for the Nations League games against Kosovo in Belfast (today) and Greece in Athens on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old, who was already struggling with a back injury, now faces an uncertain international future but manager Ian Baraclough insisted the door was still open for Northern Ireland’s second-highest scorer.

“It’s not necessarily the end,” Baraclough said. “Part of being a manager is being a father figure and being able to reach out to him. That relationship will still exist.

“It’s definitely something we’d rather not talk about. The team is aware of the situation. Kyle is a popular character in the group and everyone will flock to him.

“The IFA has done a lot of cross-community work and it is so important for the future of this country.

“Even though I didn’t grow up here, I lived with what happened through The Troubles and how society deals with it. It is a stronger, more cohesive nation.”

Northern Ireland have yet to win a Nations League game in 14 attempts and risk falling into pot five in the Euro 2024 qualifying draw if the next two results are against them.

Lafferty’s 20 goals for Northern Ireland makes him the second-highest goalscorer in the country’s history behind David Healy.

The 35-year-old spent two different stints with Rangers earlier in his career and was subjected to sectarian abuse in 2011 after his car window was smashed at a petrol station near Glasgow.

He joined Kilmarnock from Cypriot club Anorthosis Famagusta in January and the Scottish Premiership club released a statement on Thursday after video of Lafferty began circulating online.

“Kilmarnock Football Club are aware of a video circulating on the internet which appears to show a member of our game team using sectarian language.

“The association finds any form of discriminatory behavior completely unacceptable. The matter is being investigated by the club.’

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