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Jamie O'Hara to decide on fitness for FA Cup final

By Chris Bevan

Jamie O'Hara
O'Hara's wholehearted displays have won him many admirers at Portsmouth

On-loan Portsmouth midfielder Jamie O'Hara will decide with manager Avram Grant whether to play in the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday.

The Tottenham man would ordinarily be told to rest for eight weeks because of two stress fractures in his lower back.

"I have a big decision to make, I could risk longer-term injury," he said.

"I'm having an injection on Tuesday. If it does settle down I'll be OK to play. Spurs can't recall me so it's entirely down to me and Avram."

The 23-year-old played in relegated Portsmouth's final Premier League match at Everton on Sunday and insists he would be prepared to go through the pain barrier again at Wembley.

"I've been speaking to the doctors at Spurs and they have not been trying to stop me playing - they are just looking for me to be fit for pre-season," said O'Hara, who featured in Spurs' 2008-09 Carling Cup final defeat by Manchester United at Wembley.

Portsmouth deserve FA Cup joy - Grant

"It's a massive game on Saturday and I want to play but if I'm not fit I don't want to jeopardise our chances.

"It has come to the point now where I am really struggling and can't do anything. I can get around, but it is not how you want to be going into a cup final.

"After this, I will be out for a couple of months, and then it will just be rest because it is a stress fracture. Speaking to the doctors, it can be serious and if you keep playing on it you could be looking at a year out.

"I have got to be careful what I do but with the injections the doctors said one more game would not be a problem.

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"I will have a sit down with the manager and see. I might just have to play the last half-hour and see how it goes. If it does settle after the injection then I will be all right to play, but at the moment, it is too early to call.

The former Spurs trainee made three appearances for the Lilywhites last term before being loaned to Portsmouth in August and agreeing a second loan spell in January.

He had been expected to return to White Hart Lane in the summer but said: "I wouldn't want to go back to Spurs and just sit on the bench."

The combative midfielder became a firm favourite with the crowd at Portsmouth, but was ineligible for the FA Cup semi-final as Pompey stunned his parent club Spurs to reach the Wembley showpiece against the Premier League champions.

"We hope he can play and we will know on Thursday or Friday whether he can or not," said Pompey boss Avram Grant.

"He belongs to us until the end of the season but we have a very good relationship with Spurs and we will not hurt the player. The question is just whether he can play this week or not."

Football is sometimes about fairy tales and stories like this. Against all odds you do something that is unbelievable and gives hope to all the others

Boss Avram Grant on Portsmouth's run to the FA Cup final

Grant believes the spirit shown by his players in reaching the final offers hope to all clubs.

Pompey's cup progress has come against a backdrop of financial chaos, ownership changes, administration and relegation.

They now face an uncertain future but, despite all the off-field problems at Fratton Park, Grant feels there is at least one reason for the club to feel proud.

"For a big club to be in the final is something usual," said the Israeli. "Nobody will remember when a big club takes the cup because that is what everybody expects.

"But everybody remembers that Southampton beat Manchester United (1976) and Sunderland beat Leeds (1973). Everybody will remember this season that Portsmouth came to the final.

"I think it is good for football also - football is sometimes about fairy tales and stories like this. Against all odds you do something that is unbelievable and gives hope to all the others."



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see also
Portsmouth re-sign O'Hara on loan
29 Jan 10 |  Portsmouth


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