Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has praised Northern Ireland’s handling of Daniel Lafferty’s call-up for this weekend’s World Cup qualifier against Norway at Windsor Park.
Michael O’Neill initially placed the wing-back on stand-by ahead of Sunday’s Group C fixture, admitting it would be wrong to select players who would otherwise be involved in important domestic matches unless they “have a real opportunity to push for a start.”
Although the circumstances which last night saw Lafferty summoned to Belfast remain unclear, Wilder acknowledged he deserved another opportunity at international level, despite expressing his regret the 27-year-old will miss Saturday’s meeting with Oldham Athletic as a result.
“It’s a great chance for Daniel but, obviously, we are disappointed he’s going to be unavailable for our next game,” Wilder said.
United, the League One leaders, moved 10 points clear of third-placed Fleetwood Town when they beat Charlton Athletic four days ago.
Questioned on O’Neill’s refusal to draft Lafferty unless he had a strong chance of winning his first cap since March last year, Wilder said: “It was good to hear that. Championship and Prem games get postponed but ours don’t unless there’s a number of call-ups.
“We’d love Danny to be involved and we’d love him to be here and playing for us. I totally understand the view of Michael too.
I like to think he wouldn’t drag players over if they aren’t going to be involved if they aren’t going to play, especially when they can stay and be involved in a very important fixture, in a very important season, for us.”