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Football: Injured Ronaldo absent from Portugal squad

LISBON (AFP) – Still recovering from the knee injury that forced him off in the final of Euro 2016, Cristiano Ronaldo is not in the Portugal squad for the start of their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

“I have been told that Cristiano Ronaldo is clinically unfit,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said at a press conference on Friday.

The Real Madrid forward, who on Thursday won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award for last season, only returned to training with his club last week.

Porto forward Andre Silva and Valencia full-back Joao Cancelo have been handed call-ups to a 24-man squad that is otherwise similar to the group that won Euro 2016.

Portugal beat France 1-0 in the European Championship final thanks to a goal in extra time by Lille forward Eder.

They face Gibraltar in a friendly next Thursday, September 1 before taking on Switzerland in Basel on September 6 in their opening 2018 World Cup qualifier.

Portugal will also take on Hungary, the Faroe Islands, Latvia and Andorra in Group B.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon/FRA), Eduardo (Chelsea/ENG), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon).

Defenders: Bruno Alves (Cagliari/ITA), Cedric Soares (Southampton/ENG), Eliseu (Benfica), Joao Cancelo (Valencia/ESP), Jose Fonte (Southampton/ENG), Luis Neto (Zenit St Petersburg/RUS), Pepe (Real Madrid/ESP), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund/GER).

Midfielders: Adrien Silva (Sporting Lisbon), Andre Gomes (Barcelona/ESP), Danilo Pereira (FC Porto), Joao Mario (Sporting Lisbon), Joao Moutinho (Monaco/FRA), Renato Sanches (Bayern Munich/GER), William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon).

Forwards: Andre Silva (FC Porto), Bernardo Silva (Monaco/FRA), Eder (Lille/FRA), Nani (Valencia/ESP), Rafa Silva (Braga), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas/TUR).