Portugal's Danilo Pereira (right) challenges Ghana's Andre Ayew during the World Cup Group H soccer match between Portugal and Ghana, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Nov 24, 2022. (DARKO BANDIC / AP)
DOHA - Portugal coach Fernando Santos confirmed central defender Danilo Pereira will miss Monday's Group H game against Uruguay after suffering a rib injury in training.
The Paris Saint-Germain defender is not the only injury concern for Santos, with attacking midfielder Otavio and left back Nuno Mendes both question marks for Monday.
Portugal's players warm up during the Portugal's official training on the eve of the Group H World Cup soccer match between Portugal and Ghana at the Al Shahaniya SC training site in Al Shahaniya, Qatar, Nov 23, 2022. (LEE JIN-MAN / AP)
After winning their opening match in Qatar 3-2 over Ghana, the Portuguese could make qualification very difficult for Uruguay if they can take their revenge
"As far as I know he (Pereira) is improving and we expect to have him back on the pitch very soon," said Santos, adding that his squad had enough depth to overcome Pereira's absence.
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"We have three other center halves who can replace him. We don't need to make a drama of it," he insisted, dropping a hint that 39-year-old Pepe could be the man to get the nod.
The match is a repeat of the 2018 FIFA World Cup last-16 tie, where Uruguay won 2-1 to send Portugal out of the tournament. After winning their opening match in Qatar 3-2 over Ghana, the Portuguese could make qualification very difficult for Uruguay if they can take their revenge.
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However, Santos warned that a rival that contains veterans such as Diego Godin, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, along with younger players, such as Real Madrid's Fede Valverde and Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez, could be dangerous.
Portugal's players sing the Portugal's national anthem prior the start of the World Cup Group H soccer match between Portugal and Ghana at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Nov 24, 2022. (HASSAN AMMAR / AP)
"We will have to be very careful because they can press their opponents really intensely, force them into errors and then hit them hard," warned Santos.
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