Kyle Lafferty earns 'deserved' Northern Ireland recall as Kilmarnock striker joins Rangers duo in squad

Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough says Kyle Lafferty deserves his international recall at the age of 34 after helping Kilmarnock into the cinch Premiership.

Lafferty, a hero of Northern Ireland's successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and the second top scorer for his country's men's team, has been selected for next month's Nations League fixtures against Greece, Cyprus and Kosovo.

"I suppose it was big news when Kyle was left out of the squad previously, but the door was never closed on him," Baraclough said.

"He's applied himself very well at Kilmarnock, scored goals to get them back in the Scottish Premiership, and he deserves his recall.

Kilmarnock's Kyle Lafferty has been recalled to the Northern Ireland squad at the age of 34. (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)

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"Hopefully he can bring that form into the Northern Ireland squad.

"We scored three goals against Luxembourg (in March) and we could have scored more.

"But it (scoring) has been an age-old question for Northern Ireland and Northern Irish strikers, whether we can hit the target enough."

Lafferty is included alongside Rangers duo Steven Davis and Charlie McCann, the latter earning his first Northern Ireland call-up since switching allegience from Republic of Ireland.

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Other SPFL players in the squad include newly-signed St Mirren goalkeeper Trevor Carson, Motherwell’s Luke Donnelly and Niall McGinn of Dundee.

Northern Ireland start their Nations League campaign at home to Greece on June 2 before visiting Cyprus three days later.

They move on to play in Kosovo on June 9 before returning to Belfast and hosting Cyprus three days later.

"I've described these four games as the biggest test of my tenure so far," said Baraclough, who has former England Under-21s and Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd as part of his backroom staff with Leicester coach Adam Sadler unavailable for personal reasons.

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"I've got to manage game-time for players and bring younger ones through into a bigger squad.

"Greece will be a massive test and then we've got to travel to Cyprus and Kosovo and play in heat.

"There is promotion and relegation on these games, and possibly getting to a play-off for the Euros is something we are striving for. But we also have to temper that by giving experience to some younger players."

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