Kyle Lafferty feels Michael O'Neill has Northern Ireland on the right track
Kyle Lafferty has given Michael O'Neill an emphatic seal of approval as Northern Ireland manager.
By Pete O'Rourke - Follow me: @skysportspeteo
Last Updated: 09/09/12 4:06pm
O'Neill took charge of the national side at the turn of the year and has yet to taste victory in four matches, including Friday's 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat in Russia.
But Lafferty, who put in a tireless display in the unforgiving lone striker role in Moscow, has been impressed by the former Shamrock Rovers manager and already rates him above previous Northern Ireland coaches Lawrie Sanchez and Nigel Worthington.
A home clash against Luxembourg on Tuesday night represents O'Neill's best chance yet of a win and Lafferty is confident he is on the right track.
"For me, he is probably the best manager I have worked under at international level," said the Sion forward.
"Michael has come in, freshened things up, changed some things around and everything he has done has been for the better. In training and outside, everything has been different.
"I'm convinced with his methods we'll soon see positive results, starting against Luxembourg."
Those methods include plenty of physical exertion, but Lafferty has welcomed the new rigorous approach.
"Everyone is buzzing and even though there's a lot of running in his training, it's good," he said.
"I'd never have imagined I would have enjoyed a training session or a game with so much running. But that's what he has done with his new coaching staff and it's definitely good."
Despite his glowing vote of confidence, Lafferty admits he was caught off-guard by the decision to drop Dean Shiels for the Russia clash.
The pair forged an impressive partnership in the friendly against Finland, with Shiels providing the assist for Lafferty's goal in the 3-3 draw.
Tactical reasons meant he was forced to stand down at the Lokomotiv Stadium but Lafferty is hoping the duo are reunited at Windsor Park.
"I was surprised Michael didn't pick Dixie (Shiels) as I think we really clicked against Finland and he set up my goal," he said.
"I think we play really well together and he sets up numerous chances for me. I'm hoping that Michael will bring him back in against Luxembourg. I enjoy playing alongside him."