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Monday 24 Jul 2017
Northern Ireland players pre-season round up 24 July

Kyle Lafferty’s explosive start to the season continued when he hit a brace in Hearts 3-0 Betfred Cup victory against East Fife at Tynecastle at the weekend.

The 6’4 Fermanagh man has now scored three goals in his opening two matches for the Edinburgh outfit and Assistant head coach Austin MacPhee believes that Lafferty is set to make a huge impact at the Scottish Premiership side this term.

“This is not always an easy place to play but he has the personality to take on the responsibility,” MacPhee told the BBC, “It was a good win and it was great to see Kyle score a couple on his Tynecastle debut.

“Kyle backs his own horse. He’s not afraid to miss a chance and then go back for another one.

“People might suggest Kyle hasn’t scored many goals in recent years - but teams haven’t played him. Norwich didn’t play him.

“Northern Ireland have played him and he has scored goals,” he added, “and I believe that will be the case here at Hearts too.

“He will be a massive player for us this season and it’s great he’s got a few early goals.”

Elsewhere, Jamie Ward came on as a second-half substitute and provided the assist for Nottingham Forest’s final goal in the 4-0 victory at Mansfield while Bradford City’s Shay McCartan earned his side a late penalty in their 3-2 defeat at home to Sunderland.

In South Korea, winger Niall McGinn made his first start for Gwangju FC who defeated Jeonnam Dragons 2-1 while new Millwall signing Conor McLaughlin and Shane Ferguson both played 79 minutes as the Lions lost 1-0 in their pre-season run-out at Barnet.

Midfielder Ollie Norwood, who Fulham are believed to be interested in signing on-loan, played the first-half of Brighton & Hove Albion’s emphatic 6-0 success over Crawley Town.

Liam Boyce started his first pre-season game for his new side Burton Albion though it ended in disappointment as Nigel Clough’s charges suffered a 3-0 loss at AFC Wimbledon.

Finally, 18-year-old midfielder Conor McKendry, who penned a one year professional deal with Ipswich Town over the summer, was a late substitute for the Tractor Boys and set up their consolation goal as they suffered a 2-1 defeat at Gillingham on Saturday.