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Wednesday 15 August 2018

Ryan: I'm praying to be fit for Spurs

Rovers 'keeper Thompson hoping God can help him to make 'dream' Tottenham date

SHAMROCK ROVERS' fate in the Europa League may rest in his hands against Tottenham later this week, but for Ryan Thompson, it's "in God's hands" whether he plays at White Hart Lane on Thursday night.

As a boy growing up in Jamaica, Thompson watched as local heroes such as Deon Burton, Robbie Earle and later Ricardo Gardner, Ricardo Fuller and Marlon King played in England's top flight and flew the flag for Jamaica on the world stage, so the chance to play in the famous old London stadium would be a dream come true for the keeper.

But despite his heroics in the Rovers goal this season since he took over from Alan Mannus -- especially in the European ties -- Thompson could miss out on the Spurs game due to an injury he picked up in the line of duty, saving a penalty in the opening game of the Europa League group phase against Rubin Kazan two weeks ago.

Call

Richard Brush has deputised in goal for the two games played since then and boss Michael O'Neill has a call to make on his keeper.

"I think this would be the biggest game of my career, certainly the most high-profile. I have been getting so many texts from home. Even my mom will be watching and she never watches my games. I know I'll have so much support back in Jamaica for this game," Thompson told the Herald.

"It's a dream for me to go and play in a game like this, so I just hope I can be fit to play.

"There are so many things that you don't have control over. As a professional footballer I can control how I eat and how I train, but I have no control over other things. Once I take care of my part, I leave the rest up to the Father. There's nothing else I can do as a person or as a player.

"You can't control injuries, I have no control over this injury I have now. If it's God's will, it will happen and all I can do is be thankful for what I have," says the Jamaican, who stepped up to take over the keeper's shirt when Mannus left for SPL side St Johnstone, and who holds ambitions of playing at a higher level.

"I am blessed to be here in Dublin, playing for Shamrock Rovers. I always put my best foot forward, whatever jersey I am wearing. I want to play at the highest level, and if I get to play against Spurs then it will be a good opportunity for me to show what I can do.

"I remember people like Fuller, Burton and Earle playing in the English Premier League. Everybody in Jamaica followed them and it would be a blessing for me to play at that level, or in the Bundesliga or in the Spanish League.

"But I am thankful for the position I am in now, playing for the No1 team in Ireland and I am having a blast.

"If football leads me to play in another environment then that will be great," says Thompson, still feeling the after-effects of that bruising encounter with the Russians in Tallaght.

"The injury happened in the Rubin game. I got back up off the ground after saving the penalty, everyone was so excited as I'd saved it and someone pulled my head down when they were congratulating me, so I strained a muscle in my back and in my chest," he says.

"It's still not completely right, but it's getting better and I'll see how it feels when we get to London.

"I hope to be okay. I am trying my best to get fit for the game and if I need to take an injection to play, I will do that. But I won't take any risks. If I don't feel 100 percent I won't lie to the manager."

Thompson expects a challenge, whoever turns out for Spurs. "A team like Spurs are really high quality, so you need the utmost concentration for the 90 minutes, but I hope I can keep the strikers quiet," he says.

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