PORTUGAL manager Paulo Bento has suggested Cristiano Ronaldo may have to miss out on his 100th international cap against Northern Ireland on Tuesday.
Portugal suffered a 1-0 defeat to Russia last night to leave them needing maximum points at home to Michael O’Neill’s men.
Bento admitted Ronaldo was struggling from the aftermath of an injury to his left shoulder, sustained while attempting an overhead kick against Barcelona on Sunday.
“Cristiano was well matched by the Russian defence and his injury certainly played its part,” the coach added, refusing to rule him in or out for next week.
Now, as ‘A Selecção’ prepare to welcome Northern Ireland to Porto for the next World Cup qualifier, Bento has said he will leave as little to chance as possible.
“We always play to win. I always play the best players so if I have all of them available for Northern Ireland, they will all play,” he told media in Moscow.
“We know Northern Ireland will be physical and tough.
“I don’t think, however, Russia were lucky to win against Northern Ireland. They were obviously stronger and deserved the three points.
“We should have used our chances in the first half against Russia because we had everything – speed, passing and control.
Meanwhile, also in Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualifying Group F last night Israel trounced Luxembourg 6-0.
Goals from Radi, Ben Basat, Hemed (3), Keinan, Ziv and Biton completed the rout.
p SEE www.newsletter.co.uk for last night’s N Ireland Under 19 report.