Laszlo Geczo/INPHO Andrew Omobamidele, in action for Ireland against Serbia in September.
# Blow
Andrew Omobamidele emerges as a doubt for Portugal qualifier
Jayson Molumby, meanwhile, has been ruled out.

TEENAGE DEFENDER ANDREW OMOBAMIDELE is a doubt for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against  Portugal at the Aviva Stadium. 

Omobamidele has been nursing the lingering pain of a kick to his achilles while playing for Norwich against Brentford last weekend and his involvement against Portugal is now subject to a late fitness check. 

“We will have to wait and see how he is”, said manager Stephen Kenny. “I can’t say I’m optimistic. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Omobamidele made his senior Irish debut off the bench against Portugal in Faro last September, and has started Ireland’s last three internationals. If he does miss out, another young defender from Leixlip – Burnley’s Nathan Collins – will come into contention, while Seamus Coleman is also an option for the role. 

Jayson Molumby, meanwhile, will miss the game with a hamstring injury. 

Portugal have their own injury issues, with Bernardo Silva ruled out today, along with back-up goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, forward Rafa Silva and midfielder João Mário. 

The game will be the first senior Irish international played in front of a full house at the Aviva Stadium in two years.

“Portugal are a world-class team, previous European champions and Nations League champions, they have had a lot of players who have played in Champions League finals and so forth”, said Kenny at his pre-match press conference. 

“We’re at home and we have got a lot of good players ourselves. We are evolving as a team, you can see the team evolving in front of your eyes every game that we play.

“14 months ago, my first match, we had a year of empty stadia. Nothing. It’s a bit soulless when it’s empty. Then to go to 25,000 in October and 52,000 for this game, the first game since the restrictions have been lifted. We are enthused by that and excited by that, the players are motivated by that. 

“I feel the connection between the team and the supporters and we want that to continue to grow.”

Tomorrow marks a reunion with Portugal, two months since Cristiano Ronaldo ripped the heart from a fine Irish performance by scoring twice in stoppage time to seal a come-from-behind, 2-1 win. 

“We were hurt after the last game, the effort we put in, when you play a team like that you know it’s going to be hard”, said Jeff Hendrick.

“We had a game plan and it worked really, really well up to the 88th minute. We’d kept Cristiano Ronaldo quiet for the whole game, that’s why he’s a top player, to have such a quiet game and score two goals is brilliant for him but that hurt us. We have to try and put out that same level of commitment and hard work, we didn’t do too much wrong out there, we work hard on what we can improve on that performance.” 

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