Football: Houghton expected to be fit

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The Independent Online
The veteran Reading midfielder Ray Houghton missed yesterday's training session in Dublin as the Republic of Ireland began their preparations for Saturday's World Cup play-off second leg against Belgium in Brussels.

Houghton, 35, picked up a heel injury in the Royals' 1-0 win over Stockport at Elm Park last Saturday. But the Republic's manager, Mick McCarthy, is confident that the former Liverpool man will recover and be ready to join the party that flies to Brussels tomorrow.

"The pressure will be on Belgium as they are expected to win after their 1-1 draw in Dublin in the first leg," McCarthy said. "The fact that they have scored the away goal takes the pressure off us, but we know we can win this game and that they can throw it away."