Kyle Lafferty hopes Rangers up bid but won’t force the issue

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Kyle Lafferty yesterday confessed that he hoped his match-winning contribution in the 1-0 victory over Celtic might have a two-fold effect. The striker insisted that his appreciation of Hearts would ensure he would never stop giving his all for the club in the midst of Rangers’ pursuit of him.

However, the 30-year-old admitted that he hoped by doing so would encourage his former club to produce a bid that would pave the way for his return to Ibrox.

Kyle Lafferty with manager Craig Levein after the striker's goal was enough to defeat Celtic at Tynecastle. Picture: SNS

Kyle Lafferty with manager Craig Levein after the striker's goal was enough to defeat Celtic at Tynecastle. Picture: SNS

Speaking for the first time since Hearts rejected a £200,000 offer, the Northern Irishman said he would not attempt to force a move by off-field means.

“Getting teams like Rangers interested in you, it’s something you have to look at and you know you’re doing something right,” he said. “Hearing teams like Rangers interested in you, you intend to give that little bit extra.

“But it’s up to the two clubs. I owe Hearts and the club the respect to continue giving 110 per cent. If something happens, it happens but it’s out of my hands. I am just working hard, playing in games, getting results like today and enjoying football.

“If the clubs agree something, they agree something. If not, then I continue working hard. It’s not going to change my attitude.

“To show that obviously I can play, I can score goals. I will keep on concentrating on myself, doing well for the team and being involved in as many good results as possible.”

Lafferty said he has remained in open communication with manager Craig Levein over the interest with Rangers, and all other matters.

“We’ve spoken a few times. About football. Some not about football,” he said. “I’ve a good relationship with Ann [Budge, Hearts owner] with Austin [MacPhee, Hearts assistant], the gaffer. If there’s something bothering me I’ll tell them. And if there’s something bothering them they’ll be first to tell me.

“If I put the tools down, it is probably the worst thing I will do by disrespecting them.”

A more immediate concern for Levein was the fitness of his captain Christophe Berra who had to be removed on a stretcher after catching his foot in the turf. “It’s a worry. It’s a hamstring injury and it doesn’t look great. He’s still struggling to walk,” he said.

“That’s a concern and he’ll be a big loss.

“We don’t have an awful lot of cover in there and the fact Peter Haring was the one who would do that, he’s doing so well in midfield it would be hard to take him out of there.”