Leicester City midfielder Adrien Silva has officially got a call-up to join Portugal’s final World Cup squad.
The reigning European champions announced their provisional 35-man squad earlier this week. But, manager Fernando Santos has chopped and changed the team to a final 23, with Silva and Ricardo Pereira making the cut.
Silva will see this as a welcome breakthrough after one of the most difficult seasons in his career.
He was ruled out for the first half of the season because his international clearance documents were received late by FIFA. Silva then took some time to get up to speed in the Premier League.
Silva finally got his chance to shine after a spate of injuries to other central midfielders at City. The 29-year old resumed operations in the side towards the end of the campaign, and gradually made his mark.
Pereira’s inclusion is also a considerable achievement and is a reflection of how good his form has been in the run up to Porto’s title win.
Pereira is the only right back who hasn’t featured in any of the qualifiers. However, he has been picked ahead of the likes of Inter Milan’s Joao Cancelo and Barcelona’s Nelson Semedo. Now, he will be vying with Southampton’s Cedric Soares for a starting spot in Russia.
Notable exclusions include Eder, who scored the winning goal in Euro 2016, Andre Gomes and Renato Sanches, forward Nani and defender Eliseu.
Coach Fernando Santos said, “It was extremely difficult to choose the 23. As a professional, I have to make decisions and I know that I’m not going to please everyone,” Santos told a news conference.
“But, on the personal side, it hurts me to leave out players who took part in the European championship, and others who took part in the qualifiers and helped the team get this far.
Final Portugal squad :
Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes, Beto, Rui Patricio.
Defenders: Bruno Alves, Cedric Soares, Jose Fonte, Mario Rui, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, Ricardo Pereira, Ruben Dias.
Midfielders: Adrien Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Mario, Joao Moutinho, Manuel Fernandes, William Carvalho.
Forwards: Andre Silva, Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gelson Martins, Goncalo Guedes, Ricardo Quaresma.