Jonny Evans doubtful to play Tuesday
Jonny Evans played through the pain in Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifying defeat to Russia on Friday but remains doubtful for Tuesday's home clash against Luxembourg.
Evans underwent ankle surgery in the summer, forcing a lengthy rehabilitation and a belated start to the domestic season with Manchester United.
He has yet to feature for the first team this term but was thrust straight into Michael O'Neill's starting XI for the 2-0 defeat in Moscow.
The 25-year-old limped off at halftime but, despite admitting he had been in discomfort from almost the start of the game, he went on to play the full 90 minutes.
Evans' club manager Sir Alex Ferguson is sure to take a keen interest in the central defender's fitness -- not least because of Phil Jones' latest setback -- while O'Neill will be desperate to have him available at Windsor Park.
Whether or not that will be possible should become clear in the next 24 hours.
"I've only played one reserve game this season after having the surgery in the summer so to be honest, it was just good to get back on the pitch," said Evans. "But I felt my ankle after about five minutes. It was the same one I had surgery on in the summer but I got a heavier strap put on it and I was able to carry on for the second half. I was disappointed I felt pain so quickly in the game but if I'm being honest, I always expected I would feel a little pain -- just not that early.
"After a couple of painkillers, it did feel a bit better and if anything I felt stronger as the game went on, but like I say, I had a heavier strapping on then."
Northern Ireland's primary task at the Lokomotiv Stadium was one of containment, but Evans is anticipating an entirely different game at Windsor Park.
Although Luxembourg is actually ranked 23 places higher than their hosts at 106th in the FIFA standings, expectations will be firmly on Northern Ireland to take the attacking burden.
"The really pleasing thing (about the Russia match) is that we all stuck together and that is going to be crucial throughout the campaign," Evans said. "On Tuesday I would like to think we will have more of the ball and try to attack Luxembourg more. Of course that is always a potential banana skin for us but people will be expecting us to put on a show and get a win.
"We are happy with most of our play in Russia but we know it is a different task on Tuesday and hopefully we will get our campaign at Windsor Park off to the best start."