Fernando Santos has announced the Portugal squad for next week’s away matches against Poland and Scotland.
As for the September games, captain Cristiano Ronaldo has not been selected, while Santos has given a debut call-up to Wolves winger Hélder Costa.
Euro 2016 hero Eder Lopes is recalled, Porto’s defensive midfielder Danilo Pereira is back after returning from long-term injury, and Real Sociedad left-back Kevin Rodrigues also makes the cut after a lengthy absence.
Inevitably, the majority of the questions at the press conference centred around the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo amid the rape allegations surrounding the Portugal captain.
While not explicitly saying it was the reason for Ronaldo not being called up – he was left out of the squad for the September games too – Santos stated that the decision had been made after conversations between himself and Ronaldo and the head of the Portuguese Football Federation Fernando Gomes. Santos would not be drawn on the content of the conversations, but said he firmly believes in Ronaldo’s innocence and seconds the public support given to CR7 by Gomes.
The make-up of the squad is similar to the names chosen last month as the Seleção look to build on the promising displays by a new-look Portugal against Croatia (1-1 draw in the Algarve) and Italy (1-0 victory in Lisbon).
Wolves winger Hélder Costa is rewarded for good form shown in the Premier League and joins club team-mates Rui Patrício and Rúben Neves. Speaking about the recall of Eder, Santos said, “It’s true that Eder didn’t feature in World Cup qualifying and at the World Cup, but we always observe his games and we believe his performances merit this call-up.”
Kevin Rodrigues gets the shout in place of Raphael Guerreiro, whose 2018/19 season has once again been badly disrupted by injury.
Portugal travel to Poland for their second Nations League match on 11 October, then take on Scotland in Glasgow on 14 October in a friendly.
Goalkeepers: Beto (Goztepe), Cláudio Ramos (Tondela), Rui Patrício (Wolves)
Defenders: Cédric Soares (Southampton), João Cancelo (Juventus), Kevin Rodrigues (Real Sociedad), Luis Neto (Zenit), Mário Rui (Napoli), Pedro Mendes (Montpellier), Pepe (Besiktas), Rúben Dias (Benfica)
Midfielders: Bruno Fernandes (Sporting), Danilo Pereira (FC Porto) Gedson Fernandes (Benfica), Pizzi (Benfica), Renato Sanches (Bayern), Rúben Neves (Wolves), Sérgio Oliveira (FC Porto), William Carvalho (Betis)
Forwards: André Silva (Sevilla), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruma (Leipzig), Eder Lopes (Lokomotiv Moscow), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia), Hélder Costa (Wolves)
By Tom Kundert