Euro 2016

Kyle Lafferty expected to be fit for Euro 2016 opener against Poland

Kyle Lafferty waves whilst he sits on an exercise bike overlooking his team's training session at the Parc de Montchervet 
Liam Blackburn

Kyle Lafferty looks set to be fit to face Poland in Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 opener on Sunday after receiving the results of a precautionary scan on his groin problem.

The Irish Football Association has confirmed the 28-year-old forward, who hobbled out of training on Tuesday, underwent tests on the issue which also forced him not to train with the main group during the opening stages of Wednesday's session.

However, Lafferty, who had been on the exercise bike while his colleagues trained in Saint-Georges-de-Reneins posted a positive message on Twitter along with a thumb's up emoji and a smiley face to suggest he will be fine for the clash in Nice in four days' time.

The update will come as welcome news to the Northern Irish supporters who had feared they were about to begin their first finals in 30 years without their talismanic forward.

It was Lafferty's seven goals in qualification that fired the nation to France and his rejuvenation under manager Michael O'Neill has been a significant reason for their transformation.

Although Lafferty appeared in pain when he left the pitch at a public training session on Tuesday, O'Neill had insisted afterwards that his star striker would be okay to feature on the French Riviera.

"It's fine, it's precautionary, we have no major concerns there," O'Neill had insisted.

"It's a little twist, but on examination we don't expect any major issues at all. We're just being careful, we're more concerned about the thunder and lightning, to be honest!

"He just twisted it a little bit there when he slipped, the pitch is hard. Those little situations are always liable to happen, no major concerns there at all."

The sight of Lafferty on an exercise bike, rather than with the main group on Wednesday, had heightened fears over his fitness.

It was on one of those machines overlooking the pitch that Craig Cathcart did his rehabilitation work in the first two days in France, though the Watford defender was back in the fold on Wednesday having come off injured against Slovakia last Friday.

"It's fine," he said of his back problem.

"I managed to get through the session today fairly pain free. I've still got that little bit of pain there but hopefully that will settle down over the next couple of days and I'll be ready to go for Sunday."

Lafferty's all-clear verdict means any involvement in-form striker Will Grigg has in Nice may have to be as a substitute.

He replaced Lafferty in his most recent international, later scoring his maiden Northern Ireland goal in that game against Belarus last month to spark joyous scenes and countless renditions of 'Will Grigg's On Fire'.

That is likely to be the chant of choice among Northern Ireland fans this weekend and hearing it on the French coast would be bizarre for Grigg, given its origins on the DW Stadium terraces.

"It would be brilliant, that would be definitely be a long way from hearing it at home in Wigan," he said.

"It would be surreal. If I get some time on the pitch, to hear that song would be brilliant. We've got to give the fans a reason to sing about it first."

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Euro 2016