Rangers are yet to reap the rewards from Kyle Lafferty’s summer transfer from Hearts. With him behind Alfredo Morelos and Jermain Defoe in the pecking order, the Northern Irishman is finding game time increasingly difficult to come by. But with the Colombian suspended following his red card in the Old Firm, could Lafferty be in line to haunt former club Hearts in midweek?
A few eyebrows were raised when Ian Cathro brought Kyle Lafferty to Gorgie in the summer of 2017. One of few impressive Cathro signings, for every Christophe Berra and Kyle Lafferty there was a Rafal Grzelak or Cole Stockton, the Jambos certainly reaped the rewards from Lafferty’s spell.
They got him back to his best, as Lafferty claimed 19 goals in all competitions last season. He became Hearts’ most prolific goalscorer in 25 years, since club record goalscorer John Robertson. On his day, he’s still Northern Ireland’s best forward and is their second all-time top goalscorer. Equally, the Jambos were good for their former number nine.
The most prolific season of his career came in maroon and white. They helped him through his gambling addiction with input from every source of management whether it be Craig Levein, Anne Budge or in particular Austin MacPhee (perhaps due to him being both Levein and Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill’s assistant).
Hearts hero to Rangers reject
When Steven Gerrard opted to swoop for Lafferty, it looked a tidy bit of business. A man who had scored against both the Old Firm the previous season, with a year left on his contract, for a small undisclosed fee would be a welcome addition for any Premiership club. Particularly off the back of such a prolific season.
But it just hasn’t panned out that way. He’s already gone a spell of nearly four months without scoring this season (September to the end of January). When he did end his drought, it was away at League Two Cowdenbeath in the Scottish Cup.
With just four league goals this season for Rangers, half of those came in the same game at Fir Park as the Gers and Motherwell played out a thrilling 3-3 draw. Yet, he’s also scored in the Europa League away at Villarreal.
So, Lafferty has proved he can do it on the highest stage. Does he regret his move to Rangers? Maybe he didn’t know how good he had it at Hearts. Or maybe he’s going to use the upcoming visit of his former club to reassert himself as part of Steven Gerrard’s plans.