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Portugal coach finding it tough to settle on World Cup squad

Reuters , Thursday 15 Mar 2018
Portugal coach Fernando Santos (Reuters)
Portugal coach Fernando Santos (Reuters)
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Portugal coach Fernando Santos is struggling to finalise his squad for the World Cup in Russia, saying the job is tougher than it was for Euro 2016 two years ago.

A combination of loss of form for some key players, plus injuries for others, means that Santos is still weighing up his options with three months to go.

"At this stage two years ago, we were much closer to the final squad than we are now," he told reporters as he named his squad for the friendlies against Egypt and Netherlands later this month.

"I would say that I have completed about 70 percent of the final list."

There were no major surprises in the squad on Thursday with Cristiano Ronaldo, their most capped player and record scorer, heading the list.

Uncapped Benfica defender Ruben Dias was called up for the first time and Olympique Marseille defender Rolando was recalled after a four-year absence at the age of 32.

Santos commented on the situation of midfielder Andre Gomes, one of the out-of-form players, who has started only four league games for Barcelona this season, but who was included in the squad.

"Sometimes, the players put those things out of their mind when they are with the national side and the play like they have always played when they have been part of this group," he said.

"It's important that he joins so we can assess him psychologically."

The European champions face Egypt in Zurich on March 23 and the Netherlands in Geneva three days later.

Portugal meet Spain, Morocco and Iran in their first-round group at the World Cup

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