Fernandes reveals he is not yet fit enough for Pompey

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The Independent Football

Portsmouth's would-be £7m signing Manuel Fernandes has admitted to manager Harry Redknapp that he is still some way from a full first-team debut.

Fernandes, the 21-year-old Portuguese international midfielder whom Pompey plan to sign for a club record fee from Benfica once he has erased all doubts about his fitness, made his Premiership debut as a 75th-minute substitute in the home defeat by Bolton on Monday.

But he has virtually ruled himself out of a starting role against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday by saying: "It could be weeks before I get my full match fitness."

The midfielder insists he has recovered from the groin injury which caused him to fail two medicals during the summer and forced Pompey to compromise with a year-long loan deal instead of meeting Benfica's asking price.

He said: "It was nice to make my Premiership debut. It's a different league. My injury is now okay - although my fitness levels are not ready yet. I'm working on it. My match fitness is down, and so I need to keep playing. It could be a few weeks yet."

Fernandes had the Fratton Park crowd gasping at some of his mercurial touches during his 15-minute cameo appearance on Monday - despite Pompey's first defeat of the season.

Six days earlier, he had scored a brilliant goal from 30 yards - with only his third touch of the ball - to spark Pompey's 2-1 win at Mansfield in the second round of the Carling Cup.

He said: "I played the whole 90 minutes against Mansfield and was a little bit tired afterwards, but I'm okay. It is not a problem, and I'm progressing."

Although far from despondent over Portsmouth's 1-0 defeat by Bolton - which also ended their run of five consecutive clean sheets - manager Harry Redknapp is considering freshening up the team for the trip to Tottenham.

The veteran striker Andy Cole could be on the substitutes' bench alongside Fernandes and £2.5million Croatian recruit Nikola Kranjcar. Redknapp said: "My one regret about the Bolton game was not putting Andy on the bench. He is just the type who could have come on and nicked a goal from one of the chances we created."

The on-loan Cameroon winger Roudolphe Douala has torn a hamstring and could be out for a month.

Meanwhile, Pompey chief executive Peter Storrie has sent Jermain Defoe a written apology for suggesting the Spurs striker was keen to join Portsmouth just before the August transfer deadline.

Pompey made a £10million bid for Defoe in the summer, and Storrie said: "My comment was based on the information I had then but was not, according to Jermain, the case just before the transfer deadline."

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