Kyle Lafferty has apologised for failing to follow 'protocol' reveals Rangers boss Steven Gerrard

Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty has been barred from taking part in Rangers' clash with Hamilton by the Irish Football Association after calling off from Michael O'Neill's squad at the last minute last week
Neil Loughran

RANGERS boss Steven Gerrard has revealed he has received an apology from Kyle Lafferty for the failure to follow "protocol" that now rules him out of Sunday's clash with Hamilton.

The Northern Ireland striker has been barred from taking on Accies by the Irish Football Association after calling off from Michael O'Neill's squad at the last minute ahead of last week's double-header with Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Gerrard said: "It's a shame [that he misses Sunday] because he's a good player and he's been in good form since he came in. But we respect and appreciate what's gone on.

"He hasn't followed the protocol and done the right thing so his punishment is that he can't play on Sunday and any footballer doesn't like missing games - I can assure you of that.

"I support him, of course I do. I always support my players 100 per cent. He's come in, apologised for what's gone on. We respect Northern Ireland for the punishment they've given him and we move on.

"There's nothing else to add to it. We put a statement out yesterday which was very clear and now it's an opportunity for someone else on Sunday."

The statement Rangers released on Thursday said Lafferty remains available for his country but Gerrard admits the former Burnley, Norwich and Hearts ace will have to thrash out whether he still has an international future with O'Neill.

"That's none of my business to be brutally honest," he said. "It's between Michael and Kyle to sort out.

"I hope he continues because I still think he's got a lot to offer the international scene when I watch him for Northern Ireland. He looks passionate, he looks like he loves it.

"He's made it clear he wants to continue to play and be available but that's a conversation between himself and Michael that he will have to thrash out."

Gerrard also reacted to the decision to withdraw Paul Gascoigne's nomination for the Scottish Football Hall of Fame.

The former England skipper said: "Paul Gascoigne is my hero. A player I admired an awful lot. I bought the VHSs, the CDs, the shirts - all the memorabilia that comes with Gazza.

"He's my hero, so I'm disappointed for him of course. It's a shame because as a player and a talent and a man, he deserves to be in there.

"I don't know the circumstances [behind the decision] so I've got nothing more to add to it. But I'd just like to echo that fact that I love Paul Gascoigne and that's all I need to say on it."

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