Manchester City defender Ruben Dias has been left out of Portugal’s squad for this month’s World Cup play-offs, as the 24-year-old continues to recover from a hamstring injury.
The defender has not played since the injury of Premier League champions beating Peterborough United last month.
Fernando Santos will also not be able to call up other injured players Renato Sanches and Nelson Semedo, as he seeks to avoid becoming the first Portuguese coach to fail to qualify for the major tournament since the country missed the 1998 World Cup in France.
After Serbia’s 2-1 defeat in the final, Portugal fails to book a place in the World Cup, Portugal will host Turkey in the semi-finals on March 24, before the winner of the match faces Italy or the North. Macedonia after five days to find a place in Qatar.
Dias has been named Premier League player of the season for the 2020-21 campaign and has contributed to keeping league leaders 17 clean sheets by participating in 29 top-flight games this season.
In the absence of Dias, Sporting CP defender Goncalo Inacio is out of action for the second time, with Lille full-back Jose Fonte, 38, and 39-year-old Pepe from Porto likely to form a strong defensive partnership.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 115 goals in 184 appearances for his national team, is one of three Manchester United players to join the team, joined by Diego Dalot and Bruno Fernandes.
Speaking to the media after announcing his team, Santos emphasized the importance of the Turkish game and emphasized that his 37-year-old captain remains an integral part of his team.
“We have to win,” said the winner of Euro 2016. “We have a goal, we have to achieve it, it is the goal of the people.
“Every national team game will always be very important to the people. [We should] play Portugal, as there have been others who have marked the history of Portuguese football.
“More important than anything Portugal. It’s the same for us and the people we’re going to play for, and that includes our captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who is a very important episode.”
Although Dias will not be taking part in the crucial match against Turkey, teammates Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva have both been named in the Santos squad.
Portugal squad: Goalkeeper: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Diogo Costa (FC Porto), Rui Patricio (Roma);
Defender: Cedric Soares (Arsenal), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), Goncalo Inacio (Sporting CP), Jose Fonte (Lille), Pepe (FC Porto), Nuno Mendes (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund);
Midfielder: Danilo Pereira (Paris Saint-Germain), Matheus Nunes (Sporting CP), William Carvalho (Real Betis), Ruben Neves (Wolves), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Joao Moutinho (Wolves), Otavio Monteiro (FC Porto);
Forward: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia), Rafael Leao (Milan); Andre Silva (RB Leipzig), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United).