Hughes adds to O'Neill's problems

04 September 2013 16:29:58 UK

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill has confirmed that defender Aaron Hughes is a doubt for the World Cup qualifier against Portugal on Friday.

Fulham's Aaron Hughes is Northern Ireland's latest injury doubt.

The experienced Fulham stopper picked up a groin problem in the closing stages of Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Newcastle and is now in a race to be fit for the game at Windsor Park.

It leaves O'Neill with a possible defensive selection headache for the game because Hibernian left-back Ryan McGivern, who was drafted in to replace injured Burnley defender Daniel Lafferty, missed Wednesday's training with a knock.

A knee injury had already ruled Blackpool's Craig Cathcart out of the game on Friday and also Tuesday's game with Luxembourg so O'Neill could have big problems to contend with against the Portuguese who lead Group F.

On Hughes, O'Neill told Sky Sports: "He'll report today and see how he is, but he's an extreme doubt. Ryan is the same to be honest, an extreme doubt.

It'll be a different back four to what we had against Russia and we may have to look at players who wouldn't have full-back as their natural position.

Michael O'Neill

"We have Craig Cathcart out too so that limits us slightly. It'll be a different back four to what we had against Russia and we may have to look at players who wouldn't have full-back as their natural position.

"We have options and I don't know I'll call anyone in to be honest, but I'll assess it."

Northern Ireland, who pulled off a surprise last month when they defeated Russia 1-0 on home soil, can be backed at 1/1 to win the game with Portugal 1/1 and the draw is 1/1.

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