Kevin Kilbane knows more than most just how big a threat Patrick Mboma will be to the Republic of Ireland in their opening World Cup fixture against Cameroon next week, having played alongside him.
Kilbane and Mboma were team-mates w hen the striker went to Sunderland on loan from Italian side Parma for the last three months of the season.
Mboma did not enjoy the best of fortunes.
He was injured soon after arriving, started j ust five games and scored only once. But Kilbane will tell his Irish team-mates not to take the 31-year-old lightly when they face Cameroon in Niigata.
An international record of 27 goals in 48 games speaks for itself, and Kilbane said:
« Patrick has got talent and will be a threat.
He probably expected bigger things than he actually got when he came to us, but he has great skill, holds the ball up well and is strong. He can create chances for others too. »
Kilbane, 25, says the Irish are not getting as much sleep as back home. « It is very hot but we got used to it after the first couple of training sessions and the lads are feeling good, » he added.
« We are not fully acclimatised yet, but we are getting there. Most lads seem to be w aking early at 6-7am, which is unusual because we are used to sleeping till 10am. »
Kilbane is set to start in the friendly against Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Saturday but Wimbledon defender Kenny Cunningham has a hamstring injury.
He is expected to be fit for the Group E clash with Cameroon, though, but Mick McCarthy will not risk one of his firstchoice centre-halves before that unless Cunningham is 100 per cent.
« Kenny has a bit of a hamstring strain and it is quite tender, » said the manager. « If he’s not right, I won’t risk him.
« It is only a strain and there will be no doubt about him for our opening game on Saturday week. I hope it is not going to be something which nags away at him. »