Pepe and Coentrao out of Portugal squad

LISBON - Portugal have lost key defenders Pepe and Fabio Coentrao because of injury for their decisive Euro 2012 qualifiers against Iceland and Denmark.

The Real Madrid pair both have muscle strains but coach Paulo Bento, already missing defender Ricardo Carvalho who was banned from the national team for a year this month for abandoning the training camp without explanation, said he was not unduly worried.

"Overall, our performances have been good, result-wise our record couldn't be better, and now we must reach our objective independently of the squad changes," Bento said after naming a 23-man squad for the Group H home game against Iceland next Friday and the away match to Denmark four days later.

Bento has given Cologne's Henrique Sereno his debut call-up and recalled Valencia's Ricardo Costa.

"We opted for Ricardo Costa given his international experience and maturity, and for Sereno because he is strong in defence, fast and versatile," Bento said.

He also brought in winger Ricardo Quaresma and former Benfica striker Nuno Gomes, saying he was confident they would blend in well with the team.

Portugal are in a good position to qualify for Euro 2012, level with Denmark and Norway at the top of Group H with 13 points.

"The focus is on grabbing all three points against Iceland; we know that six or four points from the next two matches will be enough to qualify", said Bento.

Bento has revived Portugal's hopes since replacing the sacked Carlos Queiroz who had a dismal start to the qualifying campaign with a home draw against Cyprus and an away loss to Norway.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Eduardo (Benfica), Beto (Cluj), Rui Patricio (Sporting).

Defenders: Bruno Alves (Zenit St. Petersburg), Joao Pereira (Sporting), Eliseu (Malaga), Rolando (Porto), Silvio (Atletico Madrid), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Sereno (Cologne).

Midfielders: Carlos Martins (Granada), Joao Moutinho (Porto), Miguel Veloso (Genoa), Paulo Machado (Toulouse), Raul Meireles (Chelsea), Ruben Micael (Real Zaragoza), Ruben Amorim (Benfica).

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Danny (Zenit St. Petersburg), Helder Postiga (Real Zaragoza), Nani (Manchester United), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas), Nuno Gomes (Braga).


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