Lafferty snub for Northern Ireland

10 October 2018 04:22:47 EST

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has confirmed that Kyle Lafferty has ruled himself out of the squad for their Nations League double-header.

The 31-year-old striker was expected to link up with the squad ahead of the games against Austria and Bosnia & Herzegovia during this international fortnight.

I am disappointed that he has ruled himself out of the two games but our focus is on the players who are with us and I will address this situation after the international period.

Michael O'Neill

However, after Lafferty was left out of Glasgow Rangers' 3-1 win against Hearts on Sunday, O'Neill revealed that the player contacted him later that evening to confirm that he would not be on the plane to Austria on Monday.

O'Neill said: "I am disappointed that he has ruled himself out of the two games but our focus is on the players who are with us and I will address this situation after the international period."

The news will be a blow to O'Neill and the Northern Ireland squad given that Lafferty is one of their most experienced players and was on target in his 68th cap when the side lost 2-1 against Bosnia at Windsor Park last month.

His absence has opened the door to 25-year-old Rotherham striker Kyle Vassell, who has won his first call up to Northern Ireland for the upcoming matches.

"I met the gaffer (O'Neill) earlier in the year at Blackpool and he said I wasn't far away," Vassell said. "This time around I've been fortunate enough to make the squad, so I'm delighted."

Northern Ireland are 13/2 to defeat Austria on Friday night, while the hosts are priced at 3/5 and the draw is available at 14/5.

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