Gareth McAuley has admitted that he is unsure about whether or not Kyle Lafferty’s move to Sunderland is the best one for either party.
It was announced last week that Lafferty – who had been a free agent following his departure from Norwegian side Sarpsborg 08 at the end of 2019 – has put pen to paper on a short-term deal with Sunderland, which is set to keep him at the Stadium of Light until the end of the current season.
McAuley however, has revealed his concerns about the move, due to the differing attitudes of Lafferty and Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson.
Speaking to BBC Sport Northern Ireland about the deal, McAuley said: “What Kyle needs and what Phil Parkinson’s managerial style is are two very different things.
“I just think they’ll be at loggerheads the way Kyle is around training, how he applies himself and does things.”
The 40-year-old did however admit that the short-term nature of the deal could be beneficial for those concerned when it comes to getting the best out of Lafferty, as he continued: “It’s good for Kyle in the sense that it’s a short-term contract because he needs to produce and he needs to produce quickly with only four months until the end of the season.
“If he is released by Sunderland where does he go after that so he has to produce.”
Despite that, McAuley – who played with Lafferty at Rangers last season – hinted that it may not just be Parkinson who encounters some issues with the striker, as he added: “Is the dressing room there going to be disciplined enough to help Kyle where he needs help?
“Having spent a year in the dressing room with Kyle he can rub people up the wrong way.
“I hope I’m wrong, I hope he bangs in the goals every week, because Northern Ireland need him in the team and they need goals.”
Lafferty could make his Sunderland debut on Saturday afternoon, when they make the trip to face MK Dons, where a win could see them climb into the League One play-off places, depending on results elsewhere.
This could be something of a concern for Sunderland.
Given he has recent, firsthand experience of Lafferty, McAuley’s comments here will likely have some of those around Sunderland on edge somewhat, since they are not going to want to encounter anything that could upset the momentum they have built with their upturn in form recently.
But as McAuley says, with Lafferty on a short-term deal, it could force him to get his head down and perform in a way that is able to earn himself a longer-term contract, either at Sunderland or elsewhere.
Indeed, with Lafferty having joined for free, the financial risk of this transfer is at least reduced for Sunderland if it proves to be one that ultimately does not work out.