Kyle Lafferty targets Kilmarnock redemption arc as he tells Rugby Park board ‘I want to stay’

Kyle Lafferty admits all roads lead to redemption as he aims to complete Kilmarnock’s Premiership return.

The Northern Irishman insists he was as complicit as anyone last season in the Ayrshire side’s relegation despite scoring 13 times in as many games for Tommy Wright’s men.

But with Derek McInnes now at the helm, a win over title rivals Arbroath on Friday will secure a place back in the top flight.

Lafferty believes his mission since returning to the club in January after a spell in Cyprus with Anorthosis Famagusta has been about making amends for going down to the Championship.

He said: “I could have stayed abroad and earned more money or joined a Premiership club for more money.

“But once Kilmarnock came in I didn’t think about anything else. No matter that I scored 13 goals in 13 games, I was part of the team relegated.

“We let down the club and the fans and no matter how much money you’re offered, the chance to bring them back up overrides that. Plus being able to get your hands on a medal at the end of a season is what football is all about – or should be.

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“The fans have supported us on the back of last year but now we have the opportunity to put things right and give them something to cheer.”

Lafferty has been nominated for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year award after being a key figure in Killie’s surge to the summit.

But he’s adamant one final push against Arbroath at a packed-out Rugby Park will be all about a team effort.

He said: “I was delighted but I didn’t come back to Kilmarnock to pick up individual awards – it was to get the club back into the Premiership and we have a huge game against Arbroath.

“We’re coming up against a very good team, one that hasn’t just arrived in second place. They’ve been at or near the top all season.

“If it comes to it and we go into the final game at Raith still needing a result, we’ll deal with that then. But all the lads know we can put an end to this on Friday if we produce the sort of performance we’ve shown at home of late.

“We’re confident but we’ll show Arbroath all the respect they deserve.”

Lafferty is already looking at extending his stay at Killie if all goes according to plan and has praised the role of McInnes in the club’s revival.

He said: “Will I stay if we go up? If they offer me as much as I want then yes!

“I wanted to stay last season but, as so often happens in football, things didn’t work out as planned.

“I’ve spoken to the manager and I want to stay. The club’s been good to me and the gaffer has been brilliant but we’ll speak about that again once the games are finished.

“First and foremost we have to make sure we get back to where we belong.”

“The manager is one of the best I’ve worked under. We have a good mix of youngsters and senior pros. Sometimes managers find it hard to coach older guys but our man’s done well in that regard and everyone likes him.”

Lafferty will attempt to recreate one of his greatest moments tonight by scoring another title-winning goal.

He said: “I feel I’m at my best when there is pressure on me, as I proved when I scored the goal that clinched the title for Rangers against Hibs in 2010.

“When there’s pressure on me I tend to perform – it brings out the best in me.

“Everyone in our squad knows that taking the three points means that we win the league and there’s no bigger incentive than that.

“If it’s a draw we go again, if it’s worse than that then we hope for a miracle on the last day of the campaign, with Arbroath losing and us beating Raith Rovers.

“But, with a good display on Friday, we should be fine.

“You always want to win trophies and it’s a different kind of pressure to fight for your lives at the foot of
the table.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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