Danny could be ace up Queiroz's sleeve

MAGALIESBURG - With Nani ruled out of Portugal's World Cup campaign, Simao Sabrosa far from top form and Cristiano Ronaldo firing blanks, Danny has emerged as a possible ace in Carlos Queiroz's Group G hand.

Portugal were dealt a harsh blow on Tuesday when in-form winger Nani was ruled out of the finals with a shoulder injury, but later that day they received good news in the form of Danny's display in a friendly against Mozambique, capped with a goal and an assist.

The man who was flown in after Nani was sidelined, Benfica's Ruben Amorim, is a versatile player who prefers to be deployed in central midfield but was used mostly at right back in his club's championship win this season.

"I've never hidden my preference because I know where I play best, at the heart of midfield, but I've shown at Benfica that I can play in any position, from being a substitute to a winger," Amorim told reporters on Friday.

"The coach knows I don't have the same characteristics as Nani but it's up to him to decide where I play," he added.

The uncapped 25-year-old is unlikely to play, however, in Portugal's opener against the Ivory Coast on Tuesday, with the experienced Simao set to start on the wing.

But despite his 81 caps and recognised talent - Ivory Coast coach Sven Goran Eriksson said this week he thinks Simao is as good as Nani - the feeling among most fans and media is that he currently looks slow and lacks Nani's fiery unpredictability.

With Ronaldo, who did not score in the qualifiers nor in the friendlies, appearing burdened by immense expectations of him, Danny could be used as a substitute to wrench open tight games.

Zenit St. Petersburg broke a Russian record by paying 30 million euros in 2008 for the speedy and tricky forward who can play as winger or second striker.

He played in the first five qualifiers but was sidelined with a serious knee injury. Impressive form since returning in March swayed Queiroz to call him to the squad and he responded with fine displays against Cameroon and Mozambique.

"We'll miss Nani badly. But I started today and things went well. It's all up to the coach but I'm here to help," Danny told reporters after Tuesday's 3-0 win against Mozambique.

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