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September 6, 2013 7:45 PM BST
Windsor Park — Belfast
Referee:‬ D. Makkelie‎
Attendance:‬ 13629‎

Northern Ireland - Portugal Preview: Ronaldo expected to be fit for group leaders

The Real Madrid star missed training but should feature for Paulo Bento's men who currently hold a two-point lead over Russia in Group F, having played a game more

Harry West

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Portugal will be able to call on Cristiano Ronaldo as they look to take a step closer to 2014 World Cup qualification against Northern Ireland.

The Real Madrid winger sat out training earlier this week with a muscle problem, but he is still expected to feature at Windsor Park on Friday as Portugal go in search of a win that would maintain their position at the top of Group F.

However, coach Paulo Bento has been handed a blow ahead of the clash after goalkeeper Beto, attacking midfielder Danny and Hugo Almeida all pulled out of the squad through injury.

Bento has opted to call up 22-year-old forward Nelson Oliveira and uncapped duo Lica and Anthony Lopes to bolster his party, for a game that forms the first part of a double-header that will also see them take in a friendly with Brazil in Boston on September 10.

Portugal currently hold a two-point lead over Russia in their group but they have played a game more than Fabio Capello’s men, with both countries having enjoyed a 1-0 home win in the corresponding fixtures between the pair.

For Northern Ireland, meanwhile, their hopes of making the finals are all-but over, although they will be keen to build on their shock 1-0 win over Russia in August.

Midfielder Chris Brunt returns after missing that clash through suspension, while Kyle Lafferty has recovered from an Achilles injury.

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans, who missed the last qualifier through illness, is vying for a place in defence while manager Michael O’Neill has retained Michael O'Connor and Lee Hodson after they were called in as cover for the Russia clash.

Burnley left-back Daniel Lafferty is suspended for the visit of Portugal but will be available for the trip to Luxembourg on Tuesday.

O'Neill’s side have had a mixed qualifying campaign so far, with the win against Russia and an impressive 1-1 draw in Portugal being tempered by home draws with both Luxembourg and Azerbaijan.

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World Cup Qualification 2014 (Europe) ‎(WCQE)‎ 6 Sep 2013 Northern Ireland 2 - Portugal 4
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World Cup Qualification 2014 (Europe) ‎(WCQE)‎ 16 Oct 2012 Portugal 1 - Northern Ireland 1
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Available Squads
25Roy CarrollGoalkeeper
22Gareth McAuleyDefender
-Jonny EvansDefender
17Lee HodsonDefender
14Shane FergusonMidfielder
11Chris BruntMidfielder
7Niall McGinnMidfielder
14Oliver NorwoodMidfielder
6Steven DavisMidfielder
-Jamie WardStriker
11Martin PatersonStriker
-Michael McGovernGoalkeeper
-Alex BruceDefender
5Chris BairdDefender
2Rory McArdleDefender
8Corry EvansMidfielder
6Michael O'ConnorMidfielder
-Billy MckayStriker
-Josh MagennisGoalkeeper
14Kyle LaffertyStriker
-William GriggStriker
12Rui PatricioGoalkeeper
2Bruno AlvesDefender
5Fabio CoentraoDefender
21João PereiraDefender
8Joao MoutinhoMidfielder
4Miguel VelosoMidfielder
16Raúl MeirelesMidfielder
7Cristiano RonaldoStriker
23Hélder PostigaStriker
-Anthony LopesGoalkeeper
13Ricardo CostaDefender
-André Martins
-Adrien Silva
-Ruben AmorimMidfielder
-Nélson Oliveira
Group A Matchday 8
Times In BST
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Robin van Persie Robin van Persie
Manchester United
11 2
Edin Dzeko Edin Dzeko
Manchester City
10 0
Mesut Özil Mesut Özil
8 3
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Paris St. Germain (PSG)
8 1
Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid
8 0