Francisco Conceição and Jota Silva given debut Portugal call-ups

Roberto Martínez has announced a one-off 32-man squad for next week’s friendlies against Sweden and Slovenia as he intends to look at all his options ahead of Euro 2024.

He explained that he also made the decision to select an expanded squad because he does not want to overload players with excess minutes at a hectic time of the season.

Francisco Conceição and Jota Silva have been rewarded for their excellent form in recent months with their maiden call-ups to the senior Portugal team. 

“March is an extremely tough time for the players. There are lots of games and mental fatigue and we have to deal with that,” said Martínez.

“This squad can be split into three groups: players who can play in both games, players who will play only in the first match and players who will play only in the second. On Monday we will provide the list of 23 or 24 players for the first match, because we have to see first what happens in the weekend games.

“But the format is clear, with the focus on producing high-quality work, giving players opportunities and avoiding fatigue.”

Injury absences

The final 23-man squad will therefore comprise of players in this squad plus the potential call-ups of Diogo Jota, Pedro Neto, Pedro Gonçalves and Ricardo Horta, who are left out because they are unfit.

“Pote (Gonçalves) is having a spectacular season. He’s scored 16 goals and provided 13 assists and he had every chance of being in this squad,” said Martínez.

There has also been speculation in recent months that the Spanish coach would give the nod to Porto’s Brazilian-born winger Galeno, who also has Portuguese nationality. However, Galeno was selected by Brazil earlier in the week and Martínez said that his integration into the Portugal squad was no longer a possibility.

Galeno opts for Brazil

“Representing the Portuguese people is special. We’ve been tracking Galeno over the past year, but we have to respect him. I spoke to him and he would like to play for Brazil. We respect that and I wish him the best of luck, but we need players who have our Seleção in their heart.”

[related: Porto’s Galeno in international tug of war as Brazil call up the winger wanted by Portugal]

Portugal play Sweden on 21 March in Guimarães, before travelling to Ljubljana to face Slovenia on 26 March. These are the final two friendly matches before Martínez announces the twenty-three names for the tournament in May.

The Seleção play three more friendlies in June against Finland, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland before the embarking on the journey to their German base.

Full Portugal squad for friendlies against Sweden and Slovenia

Goalkeepers: Diogo Costa (Porto), José Sá (Wolves), Rui Patrício (Roma)

Defenders: João Cancelo (Barcelona), Nélson Semedo  (Wolves), João Mário (Porto), Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), Raphael Guerreiro (Bayern Munich), Nuno Mendes (PSG), Diogo Leite (Union Berlin), Pepe (Porto), Rúben Dias (Manchester City), António Silva (Benfica), Gonçalo Inácio (Sporting), Toti Gomes (Wolves), Danilo Pereira (PSG)

Midfielders: João Palhinha (Fulham), Rúben Neves (Al-Hilal), João Neves (Benfica), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Otávio Monteiro (Al Nassr), Vitinha (PSG), Matheus Nunes (Manchester City),Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

Forwards: Francisco Conceição (Porto), Jota Silva (Vitória), Francisco Trincão (Sporting), Bruma (Braga), Rafael Leão (AC Milan), João Félix (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Al Nassr), Gonçalo Ramos (PSG) 

By Tom Kundert