Cristiano Ronaldo has been named in the latest Portugal squad by new coach Roberto Martinez for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers.
The Portugal captain has been included in the 26-man squad for the games against Liechtenstein on March 23 and Luxembourg three days later.
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Martinez has pointed towards continuity with all but two players in the squad having competed at the World Cup in Qatar last year.
Ronaldo was dropped to the bench by Martinez’ predecessor, Fernando Santos, for the final two games of the World Cup and also failed to find the net in the knockout stages as Portugal were eliminated by Morocco in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is a player who is very committed to the national team,” Martinez said. “A player like Cristiano brings experience, he is an important figure in the team. I don’t look at age or other aspects. I think Cristiano has an opportunity to help the team and transmit the experience of his career to the other players.
“This step is important for the players who are here. We want to make a winning team, a competitive team.”
Ronaldo has contributed eight goals and two assists in seven league appearances since joining Saudi Pro League club Al Nassr as a free agent in December after terminating his contract with Manchester United by mutual consent.
Ronaldo, who has played for the national team since 2003, will join the squad having failed to score in his last three appearances with Al Nassr.
Asked if he considered leaving out Ronaldo and veteran FC Porto defender Pepe from the squad to give way to the youngsters, Martinez said: “No. This call up is for the games against Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. It’s important to know that our squad has youngsters who can learn from the more experienced ones. I don’t think age is an important factor at the moment.”
Martinez, who coached Belgium at the World Cup before leaving his post, is excited about this new chapter.
“I want to build a team that shows the qualities of the players Portugal has,” Martinez said. “This is a starting point. I see quality, experience, youth, players that play at home and also abroad. I’ve seen a lot of commitment from all of them for the national team.”
Liverpool forward Diogo Jota, who missed the World Cup due to injury, has returned to the squad and will compete for playing time with Joao Felix, who has scored one goal in six Premier League appearances since joining Chelsea on loan from Atletico Madrid in January.
Goalkeepers: Diogo Costa (FC Porto), Jose Sa (Wolverhampton), Rui Patricio (AS Roma).
Defenders: Diogo Dalot (Man United), Joao Cancelo (Bayern), Danilo Pereira and Nuno Mendes (PSG), Pepe (FC Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Antonio Silva (Benfica), Goncalo Inacio (Sporting), Diogo Leite (Union Berlin) and Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund).
Midfielders: Joao Palhinha (Fulham), Ruben Neves and Matheus Nunes (Wolverhampton), Bernardo Silva (Man City), Bruno Fernandes (Man United), Joao Mario (Benfica), Otavio Monteiro (FC Porto) and Vitinha (PSG).
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Al Nassr), Goncalo Ramos (Benfica), Joao Felix (Chelsea), Rafael Leao (Milan) and Diogo Jota (Liverpool).