Published Wednesday, 04 September 2013
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It spells bad news for manager Michael O'Neill with one of the world's deadliest strikers, Ronaldo, coming to town on Friday.
Aaron Hughes and Ryan McGivern are both major doubts for the sell-out game at Windsor Park. Former Northern Ireland captain Hughes has a groin injury and stayed on for an extra day at his club Fulham to be assessed.
With Daniel Lafferty suspended and Craig Cathcart out with a knee problem, O'Neill's options at the back are dwindling.
The NI manager said: "It's hugely significant, you know, we're looking at possibly three of the four players that played in the back four against Russia not being available to us, with Aaron [injured], Daniel being suspended and Craig not being available.
"Having Jonny back is a big plus to come back in - but you know if the players come Friday aren't available we're going to have to improvise."
He continued: "I'll look at the situation, I've had a conversation with Chris Baird, although his club situation isn't ideal at the minute, so that's something we may look at as well."
Baird is currently unattached but he has been training with QPR and been offered a deal with Harry Redknapp's side.
Michael O'Neill's defensive headache is only made worse by Portugal's strength up front. Arguably the world's best player, Cristiano Ronaldo is known for his wonder goals.
In Portugal, NI's Oliver Norwood picked up Ronaldo's shirt after the game, but said he would rather pick up a result this time around.
"[The shirt's] in storage I'm in the process of moving house so I still haven't got it sorted out yet - but it will be sorted as soon as we move [to a] new house, and get it on the wall."
Rather than pick up another shirt this time around, Oliver said that it's more important to get three points out of the game or as many points as they can.
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