LISBON - Portugal coach Paulo Bento is hoping Raul Meireles can recover from a collarbone injury to play in a Euro 2012 qualifier next Friday despite having been ruled out by his club Liverpool for up to two weeks.
The midfielder injured his collarbone in the first half of Liverpool's 3-1 win over Exeter City in the English League Cup on Wednesday, with the club saying on their website earlier on Friday that he would be sidelined for one to two weeks.
Meireles has been included in Portugal's squad for the Group H qualifier away against Cyprus, with Bento saying the player has a chance of recovering.
"We know he hasn't played much and has an injury, but we think he can be fit for the game... so we have called him up, we know the limitations he may have, and we will assess it and then decide," the Portugal coach told a news conference on Friday.
"I spoke to the player and he showed a great will to play for the national side, to make the necessary sacrifices, and that's precisely the type of player we need," he added.
Meireles has 40 caps for Portugal and has been a regular starter for the side since 2008. Playing alongside the equally reliable Joao Moutinho, he has been crucial in Portugal's revival in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
The side started with an embarrassing, frantic 4-4 draw at home against the Cypriots almost a year ago, with the squad rattled by a controversy surrounding coach Carlos Queiroz's alleged insults to doping agents.
Queiroz was sacked soon after, and his successor has guided a recovery which has put the side top of Group H level on 10 points with Denmark and Norway.
"We do not want to waste any more points, and we have to have respect for our opponents," Bento said, warning also that his side would face high temperatures and humidity levels at the game in Nicosia.
Goalkeepers: Eduardo (Benfica), Quim (Braga), Rui Patricio (Sporting).
Defenders: Bruno Alves (Zenit St. Petersburg), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Sporting), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Carvalho (Real Madrid), Rolando (Porto), Silvio (Atletico Madrid).
Midfielders: Andre Santos (Sporting), Eliseu (Malaga), Joao Moutinho (Porto), Miguel Veloso (Genoa), Paulo Machado (Toulouse), Raul Meireles (Liverpool), Ruben Micael (Real Zaragoza).
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Danny (Zenit St. Petersburg), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Helder Postiga (Sporting), Nani (Manchester United), Varela (Porto).comments