Kilmarnock forward Kyle Lafferty is “bursting” to return to action against Celtic at Hampden this weekend after nearly three months out of action and Derek McInnes has backed him to produce a “big performance” if selected.
The 35-year-old Northern Ireland international is in contention to play in the League Cup semi-final as a ten-match suspension handed to him in last year is completed.
Lafferty was banned in October after he was filmed using a sectarian slur during an altercation with a Celtic fan in nightclub.
And with the World Cup break at the end of 2022, his time on the side-lines has been extended even further and his manager revealed he is desperate to back on the pitch.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s semi-final match, Derek McInnes said: “He was doing star jumps outside my office and he brought be breakfast.
“I know how much he wants to play, just like all my players want to play.
“He’s bursting to get involved after missing out. I think players can accept if they are missing four or five months with an injury, but Kyle has been fit and running about and training and he’s been really supportive.
“He’s been at all the games supporting the team. He has still had a big role to play in and around the dressing room.
“We just need him now to have a big role on the pitch between now and the end of the season.”
McInnes also insists that he has a squad full of players just as keen to make an impression at Hampden as Killie look to get past last season’s winners and secure a final place.
He said: “I have a strong squad with good options, it will be tough for me having to leave people out because everyone is bursting to play, Kyle included.
“It is a boost in general just having him back available to us, I said a couple of weeks ago that I feel like I have three new signings in with Kyle, Vassell and Scott Robinson coming from back from injury, so it feels as if all of a sudden I have a bit of firepower and some options there.
“It’s been a long suspension for him with the World Cup break.
“It’s a big game and he normally delivers a big performance. The bigger the game you need big performances from certain players and he is someone we are naturally drawn to.
“He has been brilliant for me since he has been here, albeit frustrating that I’ve not had him available to me, but at the same time it will be good to have him as an option for us.”