Ronaldo's limited Man Utd minutes 'no worries' for Portugal boss Santos

By Sports Desk September 15, 2022 982

Cristiano Ronaldo's difficulties to secure regular Manchester United minutes will not impact his role with Portugal at the World Cup in Qatar, says national team coach Fernando Santos.

Ronaldo reportedly sought to force a move from Old Trafford during the off-season following a tough first-term homecoming at United, who missed out on Champions League qualification.

Since then, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner – alongside club captain and England defender Harry Maguire – has found himself a peripheral figure on the bench.

Under Erik ten Hag, a new-look United side have reversed their form from last season's slump, with Ronaldo limited to second-half cameos on a regular basis.

Ronaldo started Thursday's Europa League win over Sheriff, though, netting his first goal of the season after being announced as part of Portugal's latest Nations League squad.

Santos, who also handed a recall to Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix, remains unconcerned over a lack of game-time for the 37-year-old and feels his captain will still offer plenty over the coming months.

"I have absolutely no worries about Ronaldo's lack of playing time for Manchester United," the Portugal coach said. "As with any player I have to work out what the situation is with him.

"But I don't think anyone has any doubts that Ronaldo continues to be of great importance to the national team."

Pedro Neto and Tiago Djalo were also notable inclusions, with Diogo Jota keeping his place despite injury struggles at Liverpool, while the likes of Goncalo Guedes, David Carmo and Goncalo Inacio missed out.

"I started preparing a list with 55 names on it, and even so it was not easy, so imagine what it's like having to choose 26," Santos added. "It's very difficult, fortunately, for Portugal and for me.

"What would be bad would be having to select 26 but only having 20 or so players to choose from. It's a headache, but it's a good headache."

Renato Sanches and Otavio Monteiro were omitted due to injury as Portugal prepare for the Nations League, where they sit a point behind Group A2 leaders Spain with two games left to play.

Portugal squad: Diogo Costa (Porto), Jose Sa (Wolves), Rui Patricio (Roma); Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Danilo Pereira (Paris Saint-Germain), Pepe (Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Tiago Djalo (Lille), Nuno Mendes (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund); Joao Palhinha (Fulham), Ruben Neves (Wolves), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Joao Mario (Benfica), Matheus Nunes (Wolves), Vitinha (Paris Saint-Germain), William Carvalho (Real Betis); Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Pedro Neto (Wolves), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Rafa Silva (Benfica), Rafael Leao (Milan), Ricardo Horta (Braga).

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Last modified on Thursday, 15 September 2022 15:36
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