Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty is facing a race to be fit for Northern Ireland's key 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifier against Slovakia on 9 September, and is set to have a scan on his injured knee on Monday.

Lafferty limped off in the second half of Saturday 5 September's 1-1 Group 3 draw in Poland after a heavy challenge. At that point Northern Ireland had been in the driving seat, holding a 1-0 lead thanks to the front-man's 37th-minute breakthrough.

Within touching distance of a vital victory, Nigel Worthington's charges were denied by Mariusz Lewandowski's equaliser 20 minutes from time. "The situation with Kyle is ongoing, but we will know more after the scan," said Worthington.

Meanwhile, Motherwell defender Stephen Craigan was full of praise for Lafferty's display against the Poles: "Kyle was having a great game and asking questions of Poland," he said. "He was winning things in the air and getting in behind them. That was his best 45 minutes in a Northern Ireland jersey, but then unfortunately he had to come off."

That was his best 45 minutes in a Northern Ireland jersey.

Defender Stephen Craigan on Kyle Lafferty's display in Poland

Lafferty showed a cool head to drill a shot under Artur Boruc after a flowing move involving Damien Johnson and David Healy. Poland, chasing a victory to re-ignite their own campaign, were clearly rattled and almost conceded a second goal in the 65th minute.

Lafferty's replacement Martin Paterson latched on to ball from Steven Davis, only to fire wide of Boruc's post. It proved to be a costly miss by the hard-working Burnley striker, with the home side regrouping and snatching a point late on.

Paterson was distraught at the final whistle, and Worthington admitted it was a key moment: "I imagine Martin is the same as all strikers - he would have loved to hit the back of the net.

"The goals Martin has scored over the years at his clubs, you would put good money on him putting it away. So he is disappointed. If we had got it, we would probably have won the game."

Craigan, however, believes there is reason to be optimistic with two matches remaining. And Northern Ireland can go top of the group, though they have played one game more than Slovakia, should victory be achieved against the current leaders in Belfast.

"We have a couple of games to go and have a good chance of qualifying. The most important thing is we are progressing as a team," said Craigan. "A few years ago, we might have been slightly overawed going to Poland. But we showed composure and our stature."

We are at home in front of a very passionate crowd. We find ourselves in a magnificent situation with two games to go.

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington on his team's qualifying chances

Slovakia had to settle for a point against the Czech Republic, with Northern Irish captain Aaron Hughes saying: "The result in that game has gone for us as well. We will take plenty of confidence going into the match on Wednesday, although we are a bit disappointed not to get all three points against Poland.

"We played well in the first half and kept them quiet. We knew they would come at us in the second half but they did not create many clear-cut chances."

And manager Worthington wants his side to go for broke at Windsor Park, where they have proved to difficult opponents in recent years. "It is very simple - we have got to go for the win.

"We are at home in front of a very passionate crowd. We find ourselves in a magnificent situation with two games to go. My job now is to make sure we get the players physically and mentally right."

Worthington welcomes back Chris Brunt following a calf injury and Chris Baird after suspension, though George McCartney has been ruled out after damaging his hamstring in training.