Roy Carroll believes Northern Ireland can cope with Cristiano Ronaldo even though manager Michael O’Neill faces a defensive headache for the World Cup qualifier against Portugal at Windsor Park on Friday night.
O’Neill could be missing three of the back four that performed so superbly well in the 1-0 win over Russia last month -- his first victory since taking charge 18 months ago.
With Daniel Lafferty suspended and Craig Cathcart out with an ankle injury, O’Neill is now sweating on the fitness of former skipper Aaron Hughes and Ryan McGivern.
Fulham defender Hughes sustained a groin injury late in the game against Newcastle at the weekend
“It’s not an ideal situation, but that’s what happens in international football,” said Carroll, who has 26 international caps. “We still have a lot of experience with two Premiership players at centre back Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley..
“Whoever comes in, is going to be up for it. The boys are still on a high after our win over Russia last month.”
“It was a big result in many ways, especially for the manager -- his first in charge. But I’m looking forward to seeing my former Man United mate Ronaldo. It’s always a challenge to play against one of the best players in the world.”
Carroll will again be handed the goalkeeping jersey in spite of the fact that he is currently out of favour at his club Olympiakos.
He adds: “It’s not good at the moment. I’m not playing . . . and I’m not involved. I’ll just keep working hard, training hard and what happens. I love it out there. The people are fantastic.A new manager has come in and brought his own keeper in from Spain
“Hopefully, I’ve four or five years left in terms of my career. I want to settle and I think Greece is the place for me.”