After plummeting from the highs of Sheffield United’s Premier League promotion to the low of crisis club Bolton Wanderers, Danny Lafferty has found solace in the League of Ireland.
The 30-year-old Northern Ireland international is in line to make his Shamrock Rovers debut tonight against Waterford after bolstering their ranks over the weekend.
Lafferty won 13 caps for Northern Ireland since his last involvement on the domestic scene as a Derry City player back in 2011.
He helped two clubs, Burnley and Sheffield United, gain promotion to the Premier League over that period, even if last season’s contribution in his final season for the Blades was limited.
The Foylesider had been weighing up his options since departing Bramall Lane, even spending time at a Bolton Wanderers outfit lurking towards liquidation, before agreeing terms with Rovers at the weekend.
Stephen Bradley’s side have an outside chance of catching leaders Dundalk, whom Lafferty also spoke to, and the Hoops are firmly in the hunt to end a 32-year wait for a FAI Cup triumph.
That package — coupled with some stability for his young family — suits Lafferty at this stage of his career.
Having been a central part of Sheffield United’s surge from League One into the Championship, he’d played second fiddle to another Irishman in their latest promotion.
“Last season was a frustrating time for me,” he said about a campaign which saw him loaned to Peterborough United.
“Enda Stevens and I became good friends from being roommates for a few years but were vying for the same position as the club’s left-wing back.
Credit to Enda, he’s improved massively since first coming into club to where he is now. I still keep in contact with the lads and fully believe they’ll be good enough to avoid relegation.
“For me, I had to move onto a new stage of my career.
“Bolton, as a big club, appealed because the manager was selling the idea of new players coming in. Then, it got worse and worse every week so I chose to avoid that situation.
“There were some offers to stay in England or go to Scotland but after seven years abroad the time was right to come home. It was a lonely time for my wife Rachael and two boys Cian and Caleb.
“Although I had some talks with Dundalk recently, no offer was put on the table.
I had watched Rovers beating Derry City at the Brandywell last Friday week and asked my agent if going there was a possibility. They play a similar formation to Sheffield United and I saw myself fitting into the left wing-back role. That’s where the move stemmed from.
In team news, Bradley will be without the suspended Ronan Finn.
For struggling Waterford, Will Fitzgerald could make his first league appearance for six weeks after returning from injury to feature from the bench against Glengad United in Saturday’s FAI Cup win.