European Champions José Fonte, Raphaël Guerreiro, João Mário and André Gomes have all been recalled to the Portugal squad for the Nations League double-header against Italy (away) and Poland (home).
None of the four players have featured in a series of promising Portugal performances since the World Cup but they have earned a recall thanks to good form shown in recent weeks for their club sides. As previously announced, captain Cristiano Ronaldo remains out of the Seleção picture until 2019.
Portugal currently sit top of League A Group 3 of the new UEFA competition, requiring only to avoid defeat in Italy to clinch top spot and qualification for the final four next June. Should the Seleção lose in Milan, they will likely have to beat Poland in Guimarães three days later to finish as winners of the section.
“Although we have two games to qualify, we want to finish the job in Italy,” said coach Fernando Santos. “We don’t want to make the Poland game a decisive match. We will be going for the win in Italy. If we play to draw we will be running a big risk.”
Portugal outplayed Italy in a 1-0 victory in Lisbon in September, but Santos warned that that game will have little bearing on the next meeting between the two nations. “Italy are clearly improving, played a great game against Poland in their last match and are very different from the side we faced here, with only two of the same players selected. They are one of the world’s top teams. Despite missing out on the World Cup, Italy are always favourites when they play at home.”
The match at the San Siro takes place on 17 November, with the Poland game three days later in Guimarães.
Full Portugal squad
Goalkeepers: Beto (Göztepe), Cláudio Ramos (Tondela), Rui Patrício (Wolves)
Defenders: Cédric (Southampton), João Cancelo (Juventus), José Fonte (Lille), Luís Neto (Fenerbahçe), Pepe (Besiktas), Rúben Dias (Benfica), Mário Rui (Napoli), Raphaël Guerreiro (Dortmund)
Midfielders: André Gomes (Everton), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting), Danilo (Porto), João Mário (Inter Milan), Pizzi (Benfica), Renato Sanches (Bayern Munich), Rúben Neves (Wolves), William Carvalho (Betis), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
Forwards: Bruma (Leipzig), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia), Rafa Silva (Benfica), André Silva (Sevilla), Eder (Lokomotiv Moscow)
By Tom Kundert